Maldives opens again, Indian LCCs add flights

The island nation of Maldives is opening up again! The country celebrated increased footfalls from India in the early part of 2021, only to shut the doors for Indians as the deadly second wave gripped the nation. Starting July 15, 2021, visitors will again be eligible for a visa on arrival at Maldives. Interesting as it may sound but Maldives had restarted tourism on the same date in 2020 after being shut due to the first wave of COVID-19 starting March, 2020. The first 35 days of 2021 had seen Maldives welcome 100,000 tourists.

Who is flying to Maldives
The three low cost carriers – IndiGo, Spicejet and GoFirst have announced flights to Maldives starting July 15. IndiGo has the most elaborate connectivity with Delhi, Bengaluru, Kochi and Mumbai.

IndiGo will operate 4x weekly between Delhi and Male starting July 21. The airline will ramp it up to Daily starting August 01. From Mumbai, the airline will begin with 3x weekly service from July 16 and operate daily from July 21. There will be daily flights between Kochi – Male and Bengaluru – Male starting July 15.

GoFirst will operate 2x weekly flights from Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru and will increase frequency to 4x weekly from August and ramp it up to daily flights from September 01.

Spicejet will also join the party to Maldives from July 22 with daily flights from Mumbai and 6x weekly flights from Kochi effective July 30.

Air India and Vistara haven’t announced any schedule yet. While Air India has been a historic operator at Male, Vistara had added the destination during the pandemic to cater to the burgeoning crowds.

Maldivian is reinstating flights to Kochi and will operate twice a week.

Follow the rules

Like all countries and cities across the world, rules are subject to change at short notice. While a negative RT-PCR (taken within 96 hours) and a confirmed booking is must to enter Maldives, tourists from India also need to take a RT-PCR test after arrival.

The latest rules and procedures are available on the website of Ministry of Tourism of Maldives.

Network Thoughts
All airlines have managed to secure the prime afternoon slots at Male – a slot congested airport with limited capacity on its apron and inside the terminal. The timings offered help guests connect to ferry and island flights to ensure same day arrival at their resorts which are away from Male.

With domestic circuit still under fare caps – both upper and lower, International flights come as a sudden glimmer of hope for the airlines. Going by the last experience things could change at short notice. The COVID-19 cases in India have reduced but “revenge tourism” could lead to another wave waiting to strike.

Collinson and CAPA recently conducted a survey of C-suite travel industry insiders and over half have said that a return to “normal” is unlikely before 2023. The rules to enter Maldives – like any other country are likely to be

Rules are fluid and airlines are likely to add, remove or amend flights at short notice. Kindly recheck for the latest guidelines and rules along with flight schedule before making a decision to travel.

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