Abu Dhabi Aviation seeks to provide helicopter taxi service in Maldives

Abu Dhabi Aviation (ADA) has proposed to provide helicopter taxi service in Maldives, ahead of a planned resumption of commercial helicopter operations in the Maldives.

In its annual report, Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) said negotiations had been held with ADA after it submitted a proposal to provide helicopter taxi and ambulance service to tourist resorts across the Maldives.

A top official from the Maldives civil aviation authority also confirmed the proposal, but stressed that the licence can only be issued after an ongoing assessment.

The authority has last year tasked the UK Civil Aviation Authority (UK CAA) to provide an in-depth review of the authority’s helicopter regulatory oversight capability. The review was conducted from August 6-11, and findings are expected to be released soon.

ADA is the largest commercial helicopter operator in the Middle East, and currently operates a fleet of 61 aircraft, including 57 helicopters — AgustaWestland AW139, AW109, Bell 412 and Bell 212 models — and four Bombardier Dash-8 turboprop transport aircraft.

Maldives ceased commercial helicopter operations over a decade ago after a series of fatal accidents. Only the armed forces now operate helicopters on special operations such as search and rescue missions, and medical evacuations.

Government, however, announced in December 2016 that regulations were being amended to license commercial helicopter operators again, more than 15 years after the island nation ceased using helicopters for commercial flights.

The new helicopter operations could provide a significant boost for the tourism industry and provide transportation links to several new island resorts.

Over a million tourists from across the globe visit the Indian Ocean island nation every year to holiday in one of the 120 resorts and 450 plus guesthouses located in all corners of the country. The multi-billion dollar tourism industry, which is the country’s main economic activity, relies heavily on the domestic transport infrastructure, especially air travel.

Maldives, the most dispersed country on the planet with 1,192 islands spread over roughly 90,000 square kilometres, already has 11 airports, including three international airports. The government has contracted both local and international companies to develop additional domestic airports across the archipelago in a bid to boost tourism.

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