Maldives flagship carrier to begin direct service to China in 2020

Maldives flagship carrier Maldivian has announced plans to commence direct flights between the Maldives and China in 2020.

Mohamed Rizvi, Managing Director of parent company Island Aviation Services (IAS), told the attendees of a tour operator conference in Xiang, China earlier this week that the airline will begin direct flight operations between the Maldives and China next year. The direct service will begin after taking delivery of two Airbus A330 aircraft early next year, he added.

Maldivian currently operates flights to six cities in China, but the routes are served via Thai capital Bangkok.

“Our direct service between the Maldives and China will enable us to boost tourist arrivals to the Maldives from China. It will also allow us to add more Chinese destinations to our route network whilst reducing operating costs,” Rizvi said.

China remains the top contributor to Maldives tourism. The Southeast Asian nation holds a marketshare of 17.4 per cent of the total tourist arrivals to the Maldives, as arrivals from China recorded a year-over-year increase of 7.6 per cent to reach 172,834 during the January-July period.

Meanwhile, Maldivian had in August announced plans to add two Airbus A330 jets to its fleet. The new aircraft are expected to join its fleet in about six months, the airline had said.

The Airbus A330 is a medium- to long-range wide-body twin-engine jet airliner capable of reaching a range of 5,000 to 13,430 kilometres. It can accommodate up to 335 passengers in a two-class layout or carry 70 tonnes (154,000 pounds) of cargo. With its first flight in 1992, there are over 1,405 units in operation today.

After the closure of Mega Maldives airline in 2017 due to financial trouble, Maldivian will become the only local airline operating wide-body jets in and out of Maldives.

Maldivian currently operates a fleet of two Dash 8-200 series aircraft, eight Dash 8-300 series aircraft, an Airbus 320, an Airbus 321 aircraft, and 11 DHC-6 Twin Otter seaplanes. The Dash 8 series aircraft are primarily used for domestic operations, whilst the two Airbus aircraft serve the airline’s international routes.

The state-owned airline operates flights to all the 12 domestic airports across the Maldives, and runs international operations to South Asian neighbours India and Bangladesh, and far Eastern countries such as Thailand and China.

The fleet expansion by the Maldives’ flagship carrier is in line with its plans to boost operations to major tourist markets such as Europe, South Africa and neighbouring Sri Lanka.

Maldivian has also expanded into seaplane operations. The airline has an all amphibian fleet of 11 DHC-6 Twin Otter aircraft for its seaplane operations, and has earlier announced a major expansion.

Seaplane is the preferred mode of transport between the main Velana International Airport and dozens of resorts, especially those located in the outer atolls.

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