Flyme to begin seaplane operations with ‘Flying Yellowfin Tuna’ floatplanes
Villa Air’s Flyme has announced plans to begin commercial seaplane operations.
In a Facebook announcement, the airline said it will offer seaplane services to resorts following the completion of a new seaplane base at the main Velana International Airport.
As part of an ongoing USD 800 million mega project to expand and upgrade the Maldives’ main gateway, construction of a new seaplane terminal kicked off in January 2018. The four-storey terminal, which will be equipped with over 80 docking platforms and other support facilities, is expected to come into operation in August.
Flyme is reportedly bringing in four Twin Otter 300 series planes to begin seaplane operations. The planes are expected to arrive in Maldives by October.
The airline has also unveiled its seaplane livery.
Dubbed the Flying Yellowfin Tuna, Flyme’s seaplane livery is inspired by the yellowfin tuna found in abundance in Maldivian waters. With a colour scheme that resembles the yellow-coloured fins and finlets of the yellowfin tuna and the picture of a yellowfin tuna painted from tail to nose in navy blue, the livery pays homage to one of the most widely caught tuna species by Maldivian fishermen and a staple of the traditional Maldivian diet.
Flyme is planning to offer seaplane services to the resorts following completion of new seaplane base at VIA.Introducing the flying Yellowfin Tuna…#Flymemv #seaplanes #twinotter #indigenousfishes
Posted by Villa Air Flyme on Thursday, 13 June 2019
Flyme, part of the Villa Group of Companies owned by local business tycoon Gasim Ibrahim, had its maiden flight on October 1, 2011 between Velana International Airport and parent company Villa Air’s own domestic airport on the island of Maamigili in Alif Dhaal atoll.
With a fleet of two ATR aircraft, the airline operates daily flights between Male and Maamigili, and serves another nine domestic airports across the archipelago with weekly services. In addition to catering to locals, Flyme carries tourists to the resorts in Alif Dhaal atoll, including Villa’s own Holiday Island Resort and Sun Island Resort.
Flyme had earlier brought in a Cessna Caravan C208 aircraft for seaplane operations but it was only used for charters as well as sight-seeing and excursion trips.
Seaplane is the preferred mode of transport between the main Velana International Airport and dozens of resorts, especially those located in outer atolls.
Two airlines currently handle seaplane operations: flagship carrier Maldivian and privately run Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA). A third operator, Manta Air is set to begin service this year.
TMA, which is controlled by a consortium led by US-based Bain Capital and Chinese conglomerate Tempus Group, operates an all-amphibian fleet of more than 50 aircraft, making it the largest seaplane operator in the world. Maldivian has a fleet of 13 seaplanes and serves over 10 resorts.
The seaplane operators are investing heavily in expanding their operations, especially their fleet. The expansion comes in line with growing tourist arrivals and increasing bed capacity due to the opening of dozens of new resorts in the Maldives.