Azur Air begins Maldives service, carries over 500 Russian tourists in first flight

Azur Air began flight operations to the Maldives Saturday, in time for the festive holiday season.

The Russian leisure airline’s first post-lockdown flight landed at the Maldives main Velana International Airport Saturday afternoon, bringing in over 500 tourists.

“With a promising record of over 500 passengers in a single flight, AzurAir resumes its direct service today bringing a stronger hope to our toursim industry,” airport operator Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL) said on Twitter.

Azur Air will fly three times a week between Vnukovo International Airport and Velana International Airport, with flights operating on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

With an all-Boeing fleet of 29 aircraft, including 11 Boeing 767-300ER jets and four Boeing 777-300ER planes, Azur Air operates seasonal charters to several countries, including China, India, Mexico, Spain, Thailand, Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates. The airline also flies to several domestic destinations in Russia.

Before the coronavirus pandemic forced countries around the world to close their borders, Azur Air operated charter flights to the Maldives.

With Azur Air now offering scheduled services to the Maldives for the winter holiday season, Russian travellers will have even more options to enjoy a tropical getaway in the Indian Ocean tourist paradise this winter holiday season.

In addition to Azur Air, Russian flag carrier Aeroflot operates eight flights per week on the Moscow-Male route. Nordwind Airlines also offers travellers twice a week service to the Maldives, while Rossiya Airlines flies once a week between Moscow and Male.

Expanding air connectivity between Moscow and Male will be a major boost to the Maldives’ efforts to revive the country’s tourism-dependent economy after reopening its borders on July 15.

Tourism promotion authorities in Maldives have also launched an advertising campaign on a leading TV channel in Russia.

Russian tourists accounted for over 74,000 or close to five per cent of Maldives’ foreign visitors last year, the sixth biggest market after China, India, Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom.

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 96 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.

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