Bangkok Airways scales back Maldives service
Bangkok Airways has announced plans to scale back its operations to Maldives.
From March 29, the Thai regional airline will reduce frequency on its Maldives service from four times a week to once a week. This change, effective until October 24, will result in the cancellation of flights on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Bangkok Airways will also cancel a planned additional service to the Maldives as part of its summer schedule. Only flights on April 11, 12 and 14 will operate under the summer service, which was set to begin on April 7.
In addition to Bangkok Airways, the Male-Bangkok route is served by the Maldives flagship carrier Maldivian and Thai AirAsia.
Bangkok Airways joins an increasing number of airlines that are scaling back their operations amidst the global economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The flight cancellations and frequency reductions come in response to weak travel demand due to the novel coronavirus outbreak and the global economic downturn.
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.