Saturday, February 19, 2011

Kingfisher Airlines Plans Flights To Maldives Next Month

Aviation Daily Feb 21 , 2011 , p. 17
Neelam Mathews

Kingfisher Airlines will start two flights a week March 17 from Delhi and Mumbai to Gan International Airport in the Maldives, 900 km southwest of India.

Maldives comprises 1,190 islands, of which 97 are resorts.

Air India operates one daily flight from Thiruvananthapuram and five weeklies from Bengaluru. While SriLankan Airlines connects many cities via Colombo to Male in Maldives, there is no other direct service by any Indian carrier.

Earlier this month, GMR Infrastructure, which manages Male International Airport, chartered a Kingfisher Airlines flight to fly back Maldivian nationals caught in the Egyptian uprising via Mumbai to Male.

The civil unrest Egypt has resulted in tourists heading from the Egyptian resort of Sharm-el-Sheikh to the Maldives, says Abdul Azeez Yoosuf, high commissioner of Maldives to India.

Airlines such as Emirates, Qatar and Oman Air are increasing flights. One attraction is that Maldives is the first destination after New York and London to receive the Jumeirah Dhevanafushi Hotel, part of Dubai's exclusive hotel chain, which will open for business in mid-March.

Last year, budget carrier SpiceJet was authorized to serve the Maldives but has not started flights because business at the moment is confined to luxury, up-market tourism.

“We are looking to change the perception in India that Maldives is just a luxury destination. We are now targeting the mid-market segment and hope that by the end of the year more Indians will start to head for the Maldives as more direct air flights take off,” says Minister of Tourism Thoyyid Mohamed.

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