Second international airline to begin flight operations to Maldives south

An additional international airline is set to begin scheduled flights to the Gan International Airport in the southernmost Addu next March, local travel agent and tour operator Inner Maldives Holidays announced Saturday.

Inner Maldives Holidays’ Chairman Mohamed Firaq told attendees of a tourism investment forum in Addu that the airline would connect Addu with the Middle East and key European cities. The flights would begin next March, he added.

“This is an exciting opportunity for Addu as a whole. Addu is a viable destination for international airlines to operate scheduled flights,” Firaq said, during the forum at the Equator Village city hotel in Addu.

The airline’s details were, however, not disclosed.

Gan International Airport is located in the southernmost Addu, which is home to Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa and Canareef Resort Maldives, and two city hotels. The airport recently underwent a major renovation project that saw expansion of its runway and upgrading of its facilities.

However, SriLankan Airlines remains as the only international airline operating flights to Gan airport.

Neighbouring SriLanka’s flagship carrier, which is particularly popular amongst tourists who travel to the Maldives from Europe, began scheduled flights to its second destination in the Maldives in December, becoming the only airline to operate scheduled international flights to a destination other than the main Velana International Airport.

SriLankan Airlines currently operates four weekly flights to Gan from Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo. The airline has recently announced plans to add two more flights to its Colombo-Gan route starting September 17.

Another international airline coming into play in Addu is expected to give a much needed boost to tourism in the southern part of the Maldives.

Despite several new resort developments and a boom in guesthouse tourism in the Maldives, Addu as a whole has lagged behind for years in attracting tourism-related investments. The relatively large atoll, which has unique geographical features compared to other parts of the island nation, is home to only two of the some 120 tourist resorts in the Maldives; Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa and Canareef Resort Maldives.

Government has, however, recently announced plans to develop 3,000 beds in Addu to cater to backpackers and budget travellers.

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