Maldives' Island Aviation spreads international wings

Last Updated: Thu, Nov 15, 2012 10:10 hrs

Male/Chennai, Nov 15 (IANS) Island Aviation Services of the Maldives is spreading its wings internationally and getting into airport maintenance and holiday packaging business, a senior official of the carrier said Thursday.

"Next year we will be adding one more A320 and Bombardier's Dash 8-200 craft. With A320 we will connect Indian capital New Delhi and expand our regional services here with Bombardier," Abdul Haris, managing director at Island Aviation told a group of visiting Indian journalists in the Maldivian capital Male.

By connecting New Delhi next April, the airliner hopes to tap Indian tourists who go to Mauritius and Seychelles for want of direct flights to Male.

"We may fly to China next year. The new A320 is part of that plan," Ali Nashath Hameed, head of administration told IANS.

With the acquisition of new aircraft, the airline's fleet size would go to eight from the current six (5 Bombardier and one A320).

The airline went international in 2008 by flying to Thiruvananthapuram in 2008.

According to Haris, the inbound Indian passenger traffic to Maldives last year was around 30,000 and it is expected to touch 100,000 in a year's time.

In respect of outbound travel, Haris said the acquisition of A320 will enable the airlines to fly more people to India.

"Maldivians go to India for medical treatment and education. Around 400 Maldivians travel to India every day," he said.

The new service is expected to divert the medical tourism traffic out of Maldives towards Chennai from Thiruvananthapuram, said Bandhu Ibrahim Saleem, chairman at Island Aviation.

"Our understanding is that the healthcare costs have gone up in Thiruvananthapuram while it is stable in Chennai and the facilities are also good," Saleem said.

Apart from operating the airline, Island Aviation also runs the Dharavandhoo Airport in Maldives and three airport lounges in three other airports in that country. With the number of airports getting increased in the near future at home, Island Aviation will be adding new routes to its map.

Island Aviation's inaugural Male-Chennai-Dhaka flight by the 152 seater A320 landed at Chennai International Airport Thursday.

The aircraft was given water salute by the Fire tenders at the airport and the disembarking passengers were welcomed by the airline staff with garlands of jasmine flower.

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