Direct flights from B’luru to Maldives underscores imp of Indian market: Manta Air chief

By BD Naraayannkar

Maldives, (UNI) Marking a historic moment for the Maldives aviation industry, Manta Air, carrying a group of journalists and a few other tourists, made its first international charter flight from Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru to Dhaalu Airport in Maldives on February 16.

Manta Air CEO Mohamed Khaleel, who was at the airport, said the company’s decision to establish direct flights to Dhaalu Airport underscores the growing importance of the Indian market for the Maldives tourism sector. “The first commercial flight will commence from March 1,” he told UNI.

“India as of now ranks as the fifth largest tourist market to the Maldives, with Bengaluru emerging as a popular destination for Maldivians seeking medical treatment, higher education, and leisure activities,” he said.

The direct flight service between Bengaluru and Dhaalu Airport opens up new vistas for both tourists and business travelers, fostering greater cultural exchange and economic cooperation between the two countries, Khaleel said.

“The flight services from Bengaluru will give a big boost to tourism in Maldives. Indians visiting Maldives will not have to transit at the Velana International Airport,” he said.

This strategic move also aims to enhance the guest experience and boost bookings for resorts in Dhaalu atoll, particularly Kandima Maldives, RIU Hotel, and Niyama Private Island, which are all located near the airport, Khaleel said.

“By facilitating easier and more affordable travel access to the Maldives, we foresee a substantial increase in travel demand from Bengaluru and across India in 2024 and beyond,” he said.

Khaleel also announced three days a week flights between Bengaluru and added that the expansion of the airport will help the aviation company to introduce Airbuses.

The Manta Air also plans to commence flights to other parts of India as well in the next two to three years, Khaleel said. Plans also are afoot to introduce flights from Sri Lanka, China and the Middle East in the same period, he said.

Khaleel said that international flights would add to Manta’s flying hours, which would be the biggest benefit for an airline, and this would also help in developing domestic airports.

“The move from a domestic seaplane carrier and airline to an airline with international flights is an important step for the company’s growth. This will further improve the tourist experience and increase the bookings received by the resorts in Dhaalu Atoll,” he said.

“The launch of international flights to Dhaalu Airport not only benefits tourists but also facilitates seamless travel for Maldivians traveling abroad,” he said.

Manta Air plans to curate exclusive packages for international travelers from India which will not only provide significant savings on flight time and costs but also enhance the accessibility of the Maldives’ pristine island resorts, Khaleel said. The packages will be offered in collaboration with premium partner resorts in the Dhaalu Atoll region, he added.

The future looks promising for enhanced connectivity and tourism growth in the region, Khaleel said.

Eight resorts are operating in Dhaalu Atoll, including the highest-end resorts. Of these resorts, Kandima Maldives and Niyama Resort are owned by Sanjay Maniku, the owner of the Dhaalu Airport.

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