British Airways to offer direct winter service to Maldives from Oct 16
British Airways is resuming its direct winter service to the Maldives this October.
The new seasonal Heathrow service to the Maldives will launch on October 16.
British Airways’ seasonal direct flights depart three times a week from London Heathrow, on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Flights will land the following day at Male. Direct flights back from the Maldives to London depart on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
“We’re glad to be returning to more destinations this month, connecting the UK with more and more countries around the world,” Neil Chernoff, British Airways’ Director of Network and Alliances, said.
“With increases in both long and short haul services, there is a destination for anyone, and with our enhanced safety measures we hope this encourages people to start planning their next getaway.”
Customers can travel in absolute confidence knowing that safety is at the heart of British Airways’ business. The airline has introduced a range of measures, which it requires customers and crew abide by. These include:
- Checking-in online, downloading their boarding pass and where possible self-scanning their boarding passes at the departure gate where possible
- Observing social distancing and using hand sanitisers that are placed throughout airports
- Wearing a face mask at all times and bringing enough to replace them every four hours for longer flights
- Asking customers not to travel if they think they have any symptoms of Covid-19
- Cabin crew wearing PPE and a new food service, which reduces the number of interactions required with customers
- Asking customers to ensure they have everything they need from their hand luggage before departure, and where possible, storing their carry-on bag under the seat in front of them
- Providing customers with a personal protection pack including a sealable disposal bag, hand sanitising gel and an antibacterial wipe
The airline is cleaning all key surfaces including seats, screens, seat buckles and tray tables after every flight and each aircraft is completely cleaned from nose to tail every day.
The air on all British Airways flights is fully recycled once every two to three minutes through HEPA filters, which remove microscopic bacteria and virus clusters with over 99.9 per cent efficiency, equivalent to hospital operating theatre standards.
The Maldives reopened its borders to visitors on July 15.
With the border reopening, 30-day free on-arrival visa is issued to all tourists with a confirmed booking for a stay at any registered tourist facility in the country.
There is no mandatory quarantine or testing on arrival, but tourists have to complete an online health declaration form and provide a negative PCR test result taken at least 72 hours prior to their departure.
Visitors with symptoms of the Covid-19 respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus or those travelling with someone who has similar symptoms are also tested at their own expense.
The 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.
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.
Meanwhile, the government’s best case scenario now puts total tourist arrivals for 2020 just above 800,000.
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 10,354.
Thirty-four deaths have been reported, while 9,187 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.
The restrictions are now being eased in phases, with the third phase measures now active.
Photo: A file photo from January 2020 shows a British Airways Boeing 777-200ER just before touch down at Velana International Airport in Maldives. PHOTO: MATHINDHAABOATU/ AVIATORSMALDIVES