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Manta Air welcomes first aircraft

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Manta Air has welcomed the first aircraft to its fleet as the brand new domestic airline prepares to begin commercial flight operations soon.

A special function was held Monday afternoon at the Maamehi Executive Lounge at the main Velana International Airport to welcome the ATR 72-600 aircraft. At the ceremony, top officials from Manta Air were joined by representatives from civil aviation, customs and immigration departments as well as those from the Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL).

Manta Air aircraft, just before landing at the Velana International Airport. PHOTO/ MUMTHAZ

The first addition to Manta Air’s fleet is the latest generation of ATR aircraft, the ATR 72-600 series, which benefits from the widest cabin in the turboprop market, new ergonomic design for greater comfort, new seats, and wider overhead bins with 30 percent more roller bags stowage. They are also the lowest seat per mile cost aircraft on the 70 seat segment, thanks to significantly lower fuel and maintenance costs compared to its competitors.

Manta Air has gone the extra mile to customise seats to provide the best comfort with the additional legroom.

“At Manta Air, our goal is to provide all our customers with a reliable, friendly and hassle-free travel experience,” Manta Air CEO Mohamed Khaleel was quoted in a statement, as saying.

“Our brand new aircraft will have more legroom and quieter rooms than other carriers. We will make sure everyone on board is delighted with their experience. We wish to make seamless domestic air travel accessible to as many people as possible.”

Manta Air aircraft, just before landing at the Velana International Airport. PHOTO/ SHAFRAN SHAKIR

Manta Air had late last month secured two ATR 72-600 aircraft through Nordic Aviation Capital (NAC). The second aircraft will join Manta Air’s fleet before the end of the year.

Manta Air will initially operate the aircraft from the Maldives main Velana International Airport to three domestic airports: Kudahuvadhoo in Dhaalu atoll, Dharavandhoo in Baa atoll and Thimarafushi in Thaa atoll.

In addition to turboprop aircraft for domestic operations, Manta Air is also in the process of acquiring Twin Otter seaplanes.

Manta Air was founded in 2016 as a joint venture between Deep Blue Private Limited, a local company with multiple investments in tourism, and tourism pioneer Umar Mohamed Maniku. The company was created to cater to the need for more air travel options and to support the rapid developments in the aviation industry in light of the development of new airports and the fast paced expansion of resorts and guesthouses across the country. 

Maldives flagship carrier Maldivian and business tycoon Gasim Ibrahim’s Villa Air are the only two airlines currently active in the Maldives. Seaplane services are provided by Maldivian as well as privately run Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA), which has the largest seaplane fleet in the world.

Launching of a new domestic airline comes amidst increased efforts by the government to expand the air transport network in the Maldives.

Over a million tourists from across the globe visit the Indian Ocean island nation every year to holiday in one of the 130 plus resorts and over 400 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.

Meanwhile, a USD 800 million mega project has been launched to expand and upgrade the main Velana International Airport. The project involves building a brand new runway, an international passenger terminal and a seaplane terminal as well as other support facilities, including a fuel farm that can store 45 million litres and a 120,000 tonne cargo facility.  

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Maldives celebrates arrival of 2024’s 1 millionth tourist

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Maldives on Thursday welcomed the one millionth tourist to visit this year.

The one millionth tourist is a Thai named Sutapa Amonwivat, who arrived from Singapore with her husband and two children. This is her second visit to Maldives.

Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) and the Ministry of Tourism gave a warm welcome to Sutapa at the Velana International Airport (VIA) Thursday afternoon. She was welcomed at the VIA by tourism minister Ibrahim Faisal, MMPRC Managing Director Ibrahim Shiury and senior officials of various relevant agencies.

After welcoming her with traditional offerings, she was presented with various gifts by the ministry, MMPRC, customs, immigration, Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) and Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA).

Maldives reached one million tourists in June, three weeks earlier than last year. The number of tourists reached one million on July 16, 2023.

Maldives expects to reach 2 million tourists this year.

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New air route connects Chongqing to Maldives

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Chongqing Airlines on Monday began its inaugural flights to Maldives.

The Chongqing-Male route, scheduled three times a week, is expected to strengthen the bonds between China and the Maldives, opening up exciting new opportunities for tourism and cultural exchange.

The inaugural flight was welcomed upon its arrival at Velana International Airport (VIA) in Maldives, where local officials and tourism representatives expressed their enthusiasm for this new development.

“We warmly welcome our friends from China to our beautiful islands. This new connection strengthens our bonds and opens up new opportunities for tourism,” the tourism ministry said on X.

Maldives currently welcomes four airlines from China, including China Eastern, Beijing Capital Airlines, Xiamen Airlines.

In January, Maldives government urged tourism stakeholders in both Maldives and China to ramp up efforts to restore China’s position as the primary source market for Maldives tourism, a status held before the onset of Covid-19.

China, being the largest source market for Maldives tourism before the pandemic, saw a resumption of tourist arrivals from January 2023 after a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic. In 2023, the Maldives welcomed 187,118 Chinese tourists, marking a significant recovery in numbers. This year, the Maldives has welcomed the most number of tourists from China, with over 107,940 or 11.5 percent of total arrivals by June 12. 

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CROSSROADS Maldives Introduces Weixin Pay at resorts for seamless guest experience

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CROSSROADS Maldives has introduced WeChat Pay, widely known as Weixin Pay in China, across its world-class resorts, SAii Lagoon Maldives, Curio Collection by Hilton, and Hard Rock Hotel Maldives. This payment option is made available to enhance the convenience and overall experience for guests from China, making their stay in the Maldives more enjoyable and hassle-free.

Understanding the needs of the diverse guests, CROSSROADS Maldives has integrated WeChat Pay into operations, allowing guests from China to easily and securely conduct transactions using a payment method familiar to them. The introduction of WeChat Pay is a testament to CROSSROADS Maldives’ dedication to enhancing guest satisfaction by offering exceptional experiences at every turn. What is also expected through this initiative is that the guests could benefit from better foreign exchange rates, translating to better savings on their expenditures during their stay.

The option is available for guests in-house conveniently at both resorts as well as across the Marina at CROSSROADS Maldives where a wider variety of unparalleled dining and retail experiences are available for all guests. The day visitors from China will also therefore equally benefit from this new introduction at the Maldives’ premier multi-island integrated leisure destination.

SAii Lagoon Maldives, Curio Collection by Hilton, is a vibrant tropical escape that offers unique and locally inspired experiences. The resort features spacious rooms and villas, a variety of dining options, and an array of recreational activities designed to cater to the desires of modern travellers. Guests can escape to the island’s SAiisational natural beauty, enjoy water sports, and indulge in spa treatments, all while relishing the personalised service that defines Hilton’s Curio Collection.

Hard Rock Hotel Maldives brings the iconic Hard Rock spirit to the tranquil shores of the Maldives. This family-friendly resort offers a perfect blend of relaxation and entertainment, featuring music-inspired experiences, live performances, and the brand’s signature amenities. With luxurious accommodations, diverse dining options, and a plethora of activities for all ages, Hard Rock Hotel Maldives ensures an unforgettable holiday experience for every guest.

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