Emirates to resume Maldives flights on July 16
Emirates will resume passenger flights to Maldives from July 16, as the airline continues to add travel options for customers.
The Dubai-based airline will operate five flights a week between Male and Dubai, on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
Along with the Male service, Emirates, which runs the world’s biggest airline by international traffic, is restarting passenger flights to Cairo and Tunis from July 1, and Glasgow from July 15.
This will bring Emirates’ network to 52 destinations in July, offering travellers convenient connections between the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Americas through its Dubai hub, while ensuring the health and safety of customers and employees on the ground and in the air.
These flights can be booked online at Emirates website or via travel agents.
Customers from Emirates’ network can also travel to Dubai following the announcement last week that the city will be open to business and leisure visitors from July 7, with new air travel protocols that facilitate travel for UAE citizens, residents and tourists while safeguarding the health and safety of visitors and communities.
Emirates has implemented a comprehensive set of measures at every step of the customer journey to ensure the safety of its customers and employees on the ground and in the air, including the distribution of complimentary hygiene kits containing masks, gloves, hand sanitiser and antibacterial wipes to all customers.
The announcement comes as the Maldives prepares to reopen its borders on July 15.
Maldivian officials have said that a majority of international airlines that operated scheduled flights to the Maldives before the coronavirus pandemic will resume their operations in July.
With the borders reopening on July 15, resorts and hotels on uninhabited islands as well as liveaboard vessels can begin hosting tourists right away.
Guesthouses and hotels located on inhabited islands will be allowed to reopen on August 1. Passengers on cruise ships and yachts will be barred from disembarking at inhabited islands until then.
Thirty-day free on-arrival visa will be issued to all tourists with a confirmed booking for a stay at any registered tourist facility in the country. The entire holiday has to be booked at a single facility except for transit arrangements.
There will be no mandatory quarantine or testing on arrival. Tourists will only have to complete a health declaration form.
But visitors with symptoms of the Covid-19 respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus or those travelling with someone who has similar symptoms will be tested at their expense.
The coronavirus outbreak has also 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.
Before the pandemic, the government had been bullish about tourism prospects, targeting two million, high-spending holidaymakers this year after last year’s record 1.7 million.
However, only 382,760 tourists visited the Maldives before the country closed its borders on March 27. It was a 40.8 per cent decline over the 646,092 that visited the Maldives from January to March last year.
With arrival numbers falling, several resorts across the Maldives suspended operations.
Tourism has been the bedrock of the Maldives’ economic success. The $5 billion-dollar economy grew by 6.7 per cent in 2018 with tourism generating 60 per cent of foreign income.
However, the government is at present projecting a possible 13 per cent economic contraction this year — an estimated $778 million hit.
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.
Eighteen more cases — all foreigners working or staying resorts and liveaboard vessels except five Maldivians who had returned from abroad — were later identified.
A six-case cluster of locals, detected in capital Male on April 15, confirmed community transmission of the coronavirus. Several more clusters have since been identified, bringing the total number of confirmed case in the Maldives to 2,305.
Eight deaths have been reported and 1,875 have made full recoveries.
The 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 allowed the government to introduce a series of unprecedented restrictive and social distancing measures, including stay-at-home orders in capital Male and its suburbs, a ban on inter-island transport and public gatherings across the country, and a nationwide closing of government offices, schools, colleges and universities.
Non-essential services and public places in the capital such as gyms, cinemas and parks were also shut.
Restaurants and cafes in the capital were asked to stop dine-in service and switch to takeaway and delivery.
A nationwide shutdown of all guesthouses, city hotels and spa facilities located on inhabited islands was also ordered.
These measures allowed authorities to contain the outbreak.
More than half of the people who contracted the virus have recovered and daily recoveries have over taken the number of new infections detected per day.
The restrictions are now being eased in phases, with the second phase lasting at least until June end.