Etihad, Hainan start service to Maldives

Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) welcomed the maiden flights of Etihad Airways and Hainan Airlines yesterday, making Male’ Etihad’s 67th destination.

Etihad flight EY278 from Abu Dhabi touched down at approximately 2:17 pm and was welcomed with a water cannon salute, bodu-beru dancers, coconuts and a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The Hainan flight from Beijing that touched down approximately 20 minutes later was similarly received.

Passengers who disembarked from both flights appeared curious, surprised, exhausted and delighted at the festivities. Etihad Executive Vice President Halid Al Marhedi was invited to cut a golden ribbon with GMR CEO Andrew Harrison and Maldives Marketing and PR Corporation (MMPRC) Managing Director, Simon Hawkins.

The new partnerships reflect the travel and tourism industry’s changing patterns.

While Etihad, the official airline of the United Arab Emirates, is projected to expand arrivals to the Maldives significantly, Hainan signifies China’s growing demand.

“It’s a good sign that these two airlines are having their maiden voyages today,” said Mahika Chandrasena, GMR Head of Corporate Communications. “Etihad shows that we are interested in expanding and working with these larger, well-known airlines. Hainan shows that we are interested in working with the Chinese market, which is growing dramatically.”

Hainan is the third Chinese airline to open operations in the Maldives.

Etihad is making the rounds in the region: today, it makes its maiden voyage to the Republic of Seychelles. Although Etihad will celebrate its 8th anniversary in the next few days, as one of the youngest premier airlines it has seen astonishing growth.

“Forward booking indicates that the Maldives has become one of the most popular destinations for leisure travelers and honeymooners,” said al Marhedi at a reception held at Naladhu resort last evening. Al Marhedi said Etihad was “very pleased to invest in the Maldives and support its economic growth.”

Speaking at the ceremony, Hawkins said the Maldives tourism industry could only benefit from the higher connectivity offered by Etihad. “It’s interesting to learn why people don’t come to the Maldives,” he said. “The number one reason is, people simply don’t know where we are. So when a major airline like Etihad opens services here, we know we can expect better connectivity to new markets and a fundamental boost to the country’s economy.”

Hawkins concluded that team work between airlines, travel agents, resorts and other sectors were essential to the growth and maintenance of the national economy.

Etihad has taken steps to offer customers a complete travel experience. Special travel packages are tailored to a range of budgets and travel purposes; airline guest members who book early and fly in the next 30 days will have their mileage points doubled.

INIA currently receives approximately two million arrivals each year from 29 different airlines. GMR aims to raise that to three million in the next year, and to 5.2 million by 2014, Chandrasena said.

“Alitalia will be joining us in December, bringing our airline numbers to 30,” she added. “We don’t want to say ‘no’ to anyone.”


10 thoughts on “Etihad, Hainan start service to Maldives”

  1. Hope the change to Always natural which I think is rubbish, does not kill the growth of our tourism industry.

  2. A sad day when a groundbreaking ceremony at Maldives is represented by Andrew and Simon.

    I have the deepest respect for Andrew who is more than qualified for the job - not so much Simon BUT our country is losing its grip on vital jobs and business opportunities.

    Sad, sad day.

  3. I'd rather be sad to let Andrew & Simon do something for us than be jolly to let Maldivians do nothing. This is the reality. Face it. We Maldivians are generally lazy and knows nothing but to whine.

  4. tsk tsk, you beat me to it. I was also wondering if pretty much all the highest posts are held by non-maldivians. Explains why the ones who go abroad for higher education never return right?

  5. “It’s interesting to learn why people don’t come to the Maldives,”

    “The number one reason is, people simply don’t know where we are..."

    Really Simon?

    You are seriously off beat with the tourism industry in the Maldives. Who appointed you to this post and allowed you to speak on our behalf!

  6. Simon, every statement you give is proving that you are not fit for the job and not worth the money we Maldivians are paying to you. Rf 35000 plus a luxury apartment and complimentary weekends at luxury resorts. Boy someone is badly in debt to you and is paying back with our blood.

    The following statement would not be uttered by anyone with any background in marketing.

    “It’s interesting to learn why people don’t come to the Maldives,” he said. “The number one reason is, people simply don’t know where we are...."

    Simon, Maldives has enjoyed double digit growth in tourist arrivalas on average since we started tourism in 1972. Get your facts right.

    Wonder what majic portion you swallowed to come to this conclusion. Dont think that we could be fooled by your baseless statements.

    Answer the folllowing questions:
    How did you arrive this conclusion?
    Was it from a survey among the few brits you have around in the Maldives?

    We Maldivians have created the "Maldives" as a globally recognised brand. Its international. The "Sunny Side of Live" is what Maldives would be remembered for, no matter what you do. You can never disassociate that tag line with the Maldives.

    10 years or 11 years is not a reason for changing the slogan. Give a single reason why we should change it. In all your utterance, you have not given a simple justification to change the slogan or the logo.

    Initially you have been saying that the product has changed. So is that why you have come up with "Always natural". lol

  7. Blah, Is Maldives always about tourism and how many more airlines need to bring here more tourists. The ordinary maldivians are not benefitting from tourism industry even now. Its just the same as it was during the Qayyoom days. So all these new airlines touching down and bringing more tourists here doesn't mean to the local maldivians who are still suffering and having a struggling and hard life to meet the end of the month. What a shame. Bodubery and water cannons to celebrate what!

  8. For the record he actually said that "one" of the reasons why some people don't come here is because they don't know where we are - via feedback of customer surveys at fairs. When addressing an audience, relating it to them is obvious and this seemed appropriate for a new airline launch event.

    He also highlighted the importance of MATATO in the industry and the role they play. At least someone is still behaving professionally.

  9. Hey Az. As the head of MMRC MD should not utter his chit chat as a professional statement. MD should give facts to support his statements.

    The statement is totally uttterly wrong. We also have attended fairs and we also know what people say about the Maldives.

    Shall I feed him what he should have said. He should have said that "one of the reason why people do not come to the Maldives is due to lack of easy access" which is more appropriate and relates to the event. This reason is given by people all the time.

    So if you try to respond and defend poor MD, Good luck! The guy is not fit for the post for God's sake. You can ask all the employees at MMPRC. It seems he acts like the headmaster at Nottingham Valley College. he he

  10. Haveyli, he is fit to do the job, possibly over qualified, he passed the international Corporate Governance examination for competent Directors for the Maldives (unlike some in MATATO) and has nearly 25 years media experience in Europe... he is qualified, are you???


Comments are closed.