Etihad Airways cuts frequency on Maldives service
Etihad Airways has reduced frequency on its Maldives service, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to hit the global aviation industry hard.
The Abu Dhabi-based airline said frequency on its Maldives service will be adjusted to one flight per day from March 23. This new schedule will be effective until April 30, it added.
“Due to the spread of the Covid-19 novel coronavirus and its continuing impact on air travel services globally, Etihad Airways continues to follow UAE and international government and regulatory authority directives and has implemented a series of consolidated network changes,” the carrier said, in a statement.
“This is also being carried out for the safety and convenience of its customers and staff, and to minimise operational disruption during this period.”
Etihad Airways currently operates a twice daily service from Abu Dhabi to Male. The airline uses a next-generation 787 Dreamliner aircraft on its daily morning service.
Etihad Airways launched daily scheduled flights between the capital cities of the United Arab Emirates and the Maldives in November 2011. Since then, the airline has increased the frequency on the Abu Dhabi-Male route to 11 services a week.
The global coronavirus outbreak has hit the Maldivian economy hard, as travel restrictions and other preventive measures affect the country’s lucrative tourism industry, which contributes the bulk of the island nation’s state revenue and foreign reserves.
From the hospitality industry to the airline sector, companies have warned that their long term survival is under threat.
Government on Thursday launched an emergency MVR 2.5 billion ($161.84 million) facility and a package of financial measures to shore up the local economy against the coronavirus pandemic.
The MVR 2.5 billion stimulus plan includes MVR 1.55 billion ($100 million) in emergency loans for businesses to meet short-term working capital needs.
The emergency facility is complemented by a package of financial measures, including a six-month moratorium on principal and interest repayments for personal and business loans sanctioned by commercial banks.
Meanwhile, Bank of Maldives (BML) has announced a $2 million short-term financing facility for the tourism industry.
The facility by the country’s largest bank allows operational resorts and guesthouses finance up to $2 million to manage their working capital requirements, with a repayment period of three years.
On March 8, Maldives reported its first cases of the novel coronavirus, as two hotel employees tested positive for Covid-19 at a luxury resort in the archipelago.
Eleven more cases — all foreigners working or staying resorts and liveaboard vessels — have since been identified. All the patients are under isolation, being treated at designated quarantine facilities.
Maldives announced a state of public health emergency on March 12, the first such declaration under a recent public health protection law.
The public health emergency declaration has allowed the government to introduce a series of unprecedented restrictive and social distancing measures, including a ban on inter-island travel of tourists, including for excursions and between resort islands.
A nationwide shut down of all guesthouses and city hotels has also been ordered. Spa facilities located on inhabited islands have also been closed.
The Maldives had closed its borders to arrivals from some of the worst-hit countries, including mainland China, Italy, Bangladesh, Iran, Spain, the United Kingdom and Malaysia. Visitors from three regions of Germany (Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Württemberg), two regions of France (Île-de-France and Grand Est) and two regions of South Korea are also banned from entering the country.
All direct flights to and from China, Italy, South Korea and Iran had also been cancelled.
Cruise ships and foreign yachts had also been banned from docking at any of the country’s ports.
The island nation had installed thermal screening cameras at its international airports.
Quarantine facilities, including designated islets from the 1,192 islands that make up the archipelago, had been established.