Turkish Airlines suspends Maldives service
Turkish Airline has suspended its operations to Maldives, as the spread of the novel coronavirus hammers global travel demand.
The flagship carrier of Turkey suspended its operations to the Maldives on Monday.
However, operations are planned to resume on April 16.
Turkish Airlines operates a daily direct service between Istanbul Airport in Istanbul to Velana International Airport in Male.
The direct service between Istanbul and Male serves as a hassle-free connection for those wishing to visit the Maldives from Europe as well as Maldivians that want to explore Turkey.
Turkish Airlines joins a host of other international airlines with operations to the Maldives that are scaling back their operations amidst the global economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dubai’s Emirates, which operates four daily services to the Maldives, on Sunday announced a temporary suspension of a majority of its passenger operations.
Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways has announced plans to adjust frequency on its Maldives service to one flight per day from March 23.
Bangkok Airways has announced similar cancellations and frequency reductions.
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.
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 — were later identified.
However, three out of the 13 have made full recoveries, whilst the rest are 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.