Gulf Air to begin Maldives service in 2019

Bahrain’s flagship carrier Gulf Air is set to begin its operations to Maldives this year.

Abdulrahman Mohamed Al-Gaoud, ambassador-designate of Bahrain to the Maldives, made the announcement Tuesday at the Maldives Partnership Forum 2019, which was attended by officials from donor countries and development agencies. He, however, did not give details.

State owned Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL), which runs the Maldives’ main Velana International Airport, had in 2017 announced talks with Gulf Air to begin its operations to Indian Ocean holiday destination.

Since its establishment in 1950, Gulf Air has become a major international carrier, serving 50 destinations in 28 countries across Africa, Asia and Europe. The airline operates double daily flights or more to 10 regional cities, in addition to select destinations in the Indian subcontinent and Europe, from its hub at Bahrain International Airport.

Gulf Air operates a modern fleet of 36 aircraft, with orders for 37 new Boeing and Airbus aircraft due for delivery commencing in early next year.

Middle East has become an emerging source market for the Maldives.

In 2018, 52,114 tourists from Middle Eastern countries visited the Maldives — a 5.9 per cent increase over the 49,193 in 2017. This growth is set to continue this year, as arrivals from the Middle East posted a 16.7 per cent growth in the first four months of the year to reach 19,253 from 16,497 in the same period last year.

Major airlines in the Middle East, including Emirates, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, Oman Air and Saudia already operate flights to the Maldives.

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