Direct Delhi flights from April/May 2013

Maldivian, the national carrier of Maldives, will soon start direct flights between Male and New Delhi from April or May 2013 as part of a plan to connect the major cities of South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries with the island nation.

“We have commenced direct flights from Male to Chennai and Mumbai and to Dhaka from Chennai in the last two days with the Airbus A-320 aircraft joining our fleet. The aim is to commence flights to New Delhi with the second A-320 that is to join the fleet by April or May,” Airline Chairman Bandhu Ibrahim Saleem told The Hindu .

Mr. Saleem said the airline would initially operate three flights a week to New Delhi, similar to the frequency of flights now being operated to Mumbai and Chennai.

The services to these cities would be increased once the fleet strength goes up.

Maldivian’s direct flights would help to tackle the issue of flight timings, Mr. Saleem said. The services operated by other carriers were not tourist-friendly.

“We hope to overcome this with our daytime direct flights. We are hopeful of making our presence felt in the sub-continent. At the same time, we are trying to encourage Maldivian nationals to come to India,” he said.

The airline would also operate from the two regional airports — Raa Atoll and Thaa Atoll — that would be commissioned next year as part of the attempt to make travel hassle-free for Maldivians within the country.

Reduce time

Mr. Saleem said the government had in principle agreed to operate D 8 300 aircraft from Haninadhoo airport to Thiruvananthapuram from next year. This would help to reduce time taken for travel as a flight would reach Thiruvananthapuram from Haninadhoo airport in just 45 minutes whereas from Ibrahim Nazir International Airport, it would take 55 minutes.

This plan would also help 1000-odd Indian citizens working in northern Maldives to save not only time but also around Rs.2000.

The Male-Thiruvananthapuram-Male sector would also have the newly inducted A-320 making seven weekly flights, Mr. Saleem said.

The new service would increase seat capacity to 304.

Stating that Thiruvananthapuram was a focus area, Mr. Saleem said 3,000 Maldivians were in the State capital.

Mr. Saleem said the number of Indians visiting Maldives was 30,000, and the new flights would attract more tourists. The Airbus A-320 could carry three to four tonnes of cargo. This would be a boon for a number of industries, including pharmaceuticals, he said.

Lauding the services and facilities of the world class terminal at Thiruvananthapuram airport, Mr. Saleem said the airline had no plans to commence flights from other airports in the State.

30,000 Indians visit Maldives every year and new flights expected to attract more tourists