Flyme expands fleet, welcomes brand new ATR 72-600 aircraft

Domestic airline Vila Air Flyme has added a third aircraft to its fleet.

The brand new ATR 72-600 aircraft arrived in the Maldives Thursday afternoon, after completing test flights in France.

In a statement, Flyme said the aircraft features 72 seats in a single class configuration, with an extended seat pitch of 29 inches. It is the youngest turboprop aircraft under a Maldivian registration with the highest passenger capacity, it added.

“The new aircraft will be deployed for commercial operation soon,” Abdulla Nashid, Managing Director of Villa Air, was quoted in the statement, as saying.

“ATR, known for its economical and operational efficiency and with the already experienced professional workforce and facilities, this is an ideal acquisition to spread our wings within the archipelago and beyond.”

Arrival of Flyme’s third aircraft marks a come back of the ATR 72-600 series model for the airline, which had previously operated two 72-600s before cutting down its fleet number to two — both ATR 72-500s — in 2015 due to financial trouble.

Flyme said it will soon expand its route network, with the domestic airport on the island of Ifuru in the northern Raa atoll first in line to receive scheduled flights. Flight operations to the island of Maafaru in the northern Noonu atoll will also commence once the airport is ready for commercial flight operations, it added.

“Adding new aircraft to the fleet and and expanding the route network is part of Flyme’s intended expansion programme,” Nashid said.

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 Villa Air’s own domestic airport on the island of Maamigili in Alif Dhaal atoll.

The airline currently 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 and Spa.

Flyme is gearing up to launch commercial seaplane operations. The airline is in the process of bringing in four Twin Otter 300 series planes to begin seaplane operations by year end.

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