Indian low-cost carrier IndiGo begins Maldives service
Indian low-cost carrier IndiGo has launched flight operations to the Maldives, directly connecting Indian cities of Kochi, Bangalore and Mumbai to Male.
The inaugural flight from Kochi landed at the Maldives main Velana International Airport Thursday morning. The 50 passengers travelling on the 130-seater Airbus A320 jet were welcomed by officials from the airport operator Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL) and the Indian ambassador in Maldives Akilesh Mishra.
As part of IndiGo’s international expansion, Male becomes the 13th destination on its network. The airline will operate daily non-stop flights between Male-Kochi, as well as five weekly service from Mumbai and twice weekly from Bangalore.
“Both Male and Phuket are key markets for us and we see great potential in the growth of tourism from India,” William Boulter, the Chief Commercial Officer at IndiGo, was quoted in a previous statement, as saying.
“IndiGo will continue to expand its network to meet the requirements of both business and leisure travellers wherever they demand it. It is our constant endeavour to provide more flexibility of choice to our customers as IndiGo continues to offer them on-time, courteous and hassle-free service, and an affordable flying experience always.”
IndiGo follows GoAir, which began its flight operations to the Maldives last month.
GoAir commenced its operations to the Maldives with three non-stop flight services per week between Mumbai – Male – Mumbai and two direct flight services per week between Delhi – Male – Delhi, at starting all-inclusive fares of USD 230 and USD 260, respectively.
Flagship carriers of the Maldives and India currently operate scheduled flights to and from major cities, including Bangalore, Trivandrum and Chennai. Low-cost Indian airline SpiceJet also operates daily direct connections between Kochi and Male as well as Trivandrum and Male.
Introduction of flight operations by another Indian low-cost airline — and to and from three of the major business and tourism hubs in India — is expected to help both the countries, and further boost tourist arrivals to the Maldives from India, which has become a major emerging source market for the Maldives’ tourism industry.
Official figures show that 83,019 tourists arrived in Maldives from its closest neighbour last year, a 24 percent increase from the 66,955 Indian travellers that chose the Maldives in 2017.
That growth is expected to continue this year as well, as the number of Indian tourists that visited the Maldives recorded a 4.4 percent increase in the January-August period of this year to reach 51,075 compared to 48,939 in the same period last year.
Maldives has also become a sought after destination by Bollywood stars.
Famous Bollywood stars who have vacationed in the Maldives include Salman Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor Khan, Alia Bhatt, Priyanka Chopra, Parineeti Chopra, the Bachchan family, Neha Dhupia and Angad Bedi, and Sonakshi Sinha.