Emirates top passenger carrier to Maldives for third year

Emirates carried the most number of passengers to and from Maldives in 2018, making the Dubai-based airline the top placed passenger carrier to the Maldives for the third consecutive year, official figures have revealed.

In this Statistical Year Book 2019, National Bureau of Statistics said 352,786 passengers travelled to the Maldives on Emirates flights via the main Velana International Airport, whilst 365,788 passengers flew out of the Maldives on the airline’s flights. The airline operated the largest volume of international flights by a single airline — 3,236 flights — to and from Maldives, it added.

Emirates began its service to the Maldives in May 1987 using a single Boeing 727 aircraft.

With three times daily non-stop service between Dubai and Male, Emirates has now become a major airline operating to the Maldives and a preferred airline for tourists visiting the island nation from far corners of the world, especially Europe.

The airline will operate four daily services to Male from October 27, 2019 to March 28, 2020, in accordance with winter schedules. It will also deploy its latest Boeing 777-300 ER aircraft fitted with the ‘Game Changer’ First Class suites on its Dubai-Male route from June 1, 2019.

Meanwhile, SriLankan Airlines was the second placed passenger carrier in 2018, with 2,288 flights to and from the Velana International Airport. Neighbouring Sri Lanka’s flagship carrier flew 281,810 passengers into the Maldives and 239,526 passengers out of the country.

SriLankan Airlines is particularly popular amongst tourists who travel to the Maldives from Europe.

The airline operates four daily flights from Bandaranaike International Airport to the Maldives main Velana International Airport, and six flights per week to Gan International Airport in the southernmost Maldives atoll of Addu.

Figures also revealed that Qatar Airways had the third biggest market share amongst passenger carriers operating to the Maldives’ main Velana International Airport last year. It operated 1,574 flights to and from the airport in 2018, carrying 140,210 passengers into the country and flying 147,156 passengers out.

Qatar Airways, the flag carrier of the State of Qatar, operates flights to more than 160 business and leisure destinations on board a modern fleet of more than 230 aircraft. The airline currently operates 21 flights per week from Doha to the Maldives.

Maldives welcomed a record 1.4 million tourists in 2018. It was a 6.8 per cent increase from the 1,389,542 tourists that chose to holiday in the Maldives in 2017.

Velana International Airport is the main airport in the Maldives. It is located on the island of Hulhule, just a 10-minute boat ride from the capital island of Male.

The airport has one operational asphalt runway, which measures 45 metres in width and 3,200 metres in length, along with four water runways used for seaplane operations. There are three passenger terminals, including an international terminal, a domestic terminal and a waterdrome seaplane terminal.

Government has launched a USD 800 million mega project to expand and upgrade the Maldives’ main gateway to cater to at least seven million passengers per annum. The project involves building a brand new runway, passenger terminal, a seaplane terminal and other support facilities, including a fuel farm that can store 45 million litres and a 120,000 tonne cargo facility.

The airport is a key infrastructure that supports the Maldives multi-billion dollar tourism industry. Expansion of the airport is expected to boost tourist arrivals to the island nation as it aims to attract at least two million tourists by 2020.

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