Maldives’ national carrier Maldivian has announced it will be expanding its operational fleet, with an Airbus A-321 due to arrive sometime this month, reports local media.
Speaking to Vaguthu, an official from the national carrier said that the new airliner will start its journey towards the Maldives on January 19, from Spain, adding that the plane will be able to make the journey in one day.
The official said that the Airbus will be capable of carrying 200 passengers and that the flight will be operated by Maldivian pilots and engineers.
The airplane will start operating flights into three new Chinese cities starting from next month, with the flight being projected to bring around 1000 tourists every week.
The Center for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) has said that Mega Maldives Airlines is planning a rapid fleet and network expansion by seeking potential joint venture partnerships in other markets.
In a company profile for the airline, CAPA said that the first phase of the expansion plan would involve the addition of four 757s and one 767 to the fleet, while the second phase would involve launching flights to Australia and Europe.
Mega Maldives has pursued modest expansion since launching in early 2011 and currently operates three scheduled routes from Malé with a fleet of two 767s and one 757.
“Tourist arrivals from China including Hong Kong have increased more than five-fold over the last four years from about 60,000 in 2009 to 332,000 in 2013, according to Maldives Ministry of Tourism data. China is now by far the largest and fastest growing source market for tourists to the Maldives, accounting for 30% of all arrivals in 2013,’’ said the CAPA profile.
In Southeast Asia Mega Maldives has been considering starting flights to Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur.
“Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta are not nearly large enough to support MEGA on a purely local basis. Malaysia accounted for about 11,000 visitor arrivals in the Maldives in 2013,’’ CAPA stated.
However, CAPA reported that the airline was confident that Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur to Malé would be viable routes with connections to Saudi Arabia because of strong demand for religious travel.
If Mega Maldives launches flights from Kuala Lampur or Jakarta to Jeddah it would become the first transit market and turn Male’ in to a potential transit hub from Asia to the Middle East, Africa, and other Indian Ocean islands, read the profile.