Maldivian launches direct Maafaru-Mumbai flights
Maldives flag carrier Maldivian has announced plans to operate direct flights from Maafaru in Maldives north to the Indian financial hub of Mumbai.
Mohamed Mihad, the Managing Director of Maldivian’s parent company Island Aviation Services Limited (IAS) told reporters on Sunday that the airline will begin the service from April 13.
“Our team has met with the resorts and guesthouses in the area and even met with Indian tour operators to make the arrangements,” he said.
Mihad highlighted that Maafaru International Airport is surrounded by roughly 10,000 tourist beds from four neighbouring atolls: Noonu atoll, Raa atoll, Baa atoll and Lhaviyani atoll. He stated that the airlines expect resorts and guesthouses in the area to take advantage of this opportunity.
“We have received a very good response so far,” Mihad said.
“We will be operating three weekly flights between Maafaru and Mumbai and we hope to expand the routes to various other Indian cities.”
As the airport is in close proximity to various guesthouses, Mihad reiterated that this provides great opportunities for guesthouses in the neighbouring atolls as travellers are able to reach the islands in these atolls in just under one hour via speedboat from Maafaru International Airport.
Maafaru International Airport opened in 2019 and was a groundbreaking investment for the development of the Noonu atoll. It provided various economic benefits for the guesthouse industry and luxury island resorts in the region.
According to IAS, which manages the airport, Maafaru has seen a steady increase in the number of jet landings since the border reopening on July 15.
The airport recorded 253 jet landings in 2020.
“Because of the current length of the Maafaru runway, we are only able to accommodate short haul flights. We need to lengthen the runway in order to accommodate wide body aircrafts,” Mihad said.
“I have been informed that work on lengthening the runway will begin in July this year, and we hope to complete the work by the end of the year. We plan on launching flights to Eastern European countries using wide body aircrafts as soon as the work is done.”
Maafaru airport was developed with a grant aid of $60 million from the United Arab Emirates’s (UAE) Abu Dhabi Fund for Development.
The airport boasts a 2,200-metre-long runway and is 40 metres wide with a state-of-the-art terminal with a VIP lounge. It can accommodate aircraft such as Airbus A320 and Boeing 737.
Commencement of direct flights between Mumbai and Maafaru will have great economic benefits to both the guesthouse industry and the luxury resorts.
India is currently the top source market to the Maldives with an arrival figure of over 46,500 arrivals as of March 4.