Villa Air Flyme goes intl with Sri Lanka service, to launch India flights ‘soon’

Villa Air Flyme on Friday launched international flight services, operating its first commercial international flight between the Maldives and neighbouring Sri Lanka.

Flyme flight VP8910, which took off from Velana International Airport at 1.17pm Friday, marked the important milestone of launching the airline into the international aviation platform.

Friday’s flight was a charter, consisting of a 100 per cent Maldivian crew and operated using the company’s brand new 72-seater ATR 72-600 aircraft.

Ahead the flight, on Thursday, Villa Air had successfully completed the rigorous certification requirements by the Maldives Civil Aviation Authority to obtain a variation allowing Flyme to operate international flights using its Maldivian Air Operator Certificate.

Plans to take Flyme to international skies has been in the works since early 2019.

Flyme will begin scheduled flights between Velana International Airport and Ratmalana Airport in Sri Lankan capital Colombo as soon as Sri Lankan boarders reopen, giving hundreds of Maldivian and Sri Lankans easy access between the two countries.

Flyme says it is also working on starting scheduled services to neighbouring India soon.

“The company would like to note the efforts and thank the entire Villa Air team who, over the years contributed to this project to bring it to a success. The entire Villa Air team would also like to thank the various institutes of the government of Maldives, especially the Maldives Civil Aviation Authority who had worked through some challenging conditions to complete the certification process,” a statement read.

“Furthermore, a very warm thank you to the Sri Lankan Government Authorities and Sri Lankan partner Lanka Sportraizen for coordinating the efforts in Sri Lanka for the charter flight.”

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.

Before the global coronavirus pandemic hammered air travel across the world, Flyme operated daily flights between Male and Maamigili, and served another nine domestic airports across the archipelago with weekly services.

In addition to catering to locals, Flyme carried tourists to the resorts in Alif Dhaal atoll, including Villa’s own Holiday Island Resort and Sun Island Resort.

The airline had in November welcomed a brand new 72-seat ATR 72-600 aircraft, expanding its fleet to three.

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