Male’, Maldives – Gulf Air, the national carrier of the Kingdom of Bahrain has recommenced direct flights to Maldives, the first of which landed at Velana International Airport (VIA) today.
Gulf Air’s first flight to the Maldives landed in Male on 27 October 2019 and it has been the airline’s key boutique destination in the Indian Ocean. However, the airline had to temporarily stop it’s flights to Maldives as the nation closed its borders due to the Covid-19 pandemic. After resuming flights to Maldives this month, the airline is to operate twice weekly to VIA on its newest Airbus 321neoLR, which is capable of seating 150 in its economy class and 16 on flat-bed seats on its Falcon Gold class.
Gulf Air is among a number of international airlines that recommenced operations to Maldives after the country reopened its borders such as British Airways that also recently resumed their operations to Maldives. Im addition to these airlines, many new airlines such as Air Astana and Air Seychelles have started operating to Maldives as well. There are currently 20 international airlines travelling to Maldives.
Although Maldives has noted a significant reduction in tourist arrivals compared to pre-COVID figures, there has been a gradual increase with the establishment of travel bubbles between Maldives and other countries, as well as greater connectivity in terms of flight operations. The Ministry of Tourism anticipates that the country will end the year with total 500,000 visitors, which is a steep nosedive from the record 1.7 million tourists that arrived in 2019, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Authorities, however, expect Maldives to reach peak arrival rates during 2021.
The Maldivian borders were initially closed on March 27th due to the Covid-19 pandemic and later reopened three months later on July 15th. Guesthouses were also permitted to resume operations and kickstart local tourism on October 15. Till now, over 100,000 tourists have arrived to Maldives since border reopening.