Maldives and India are braced to increase scheduled flights under the air travel bubble established between the two countries last month.
In a statement on Monday evening, the Indian High Commission in Male’ noted that Maldives is among one of nine countries that India has an air travel bubble arrangement with, and that the Maldives-India air travel bubble is the first of its kind in South Asia.
The air travel bubble between Maldives and India was established on August 25, with a weekly Air India flight on the Delhi-Trivandrum-Male’ route.
The budget airline, IndiGo Airlines, which ceased operations to Maldives following the closure borders amidst the coronavirus pandemic, took advantage of the arrangement and resumed operation to Maldives with two weekly flights on between Male’ and Kochi on September 3.
Indian High Commission has announced that Maldives’ national airline, Maldivian Airlines, is scheduled to launch two weekly flights between Male’ and Trivandrum on September 10.
“This will take the total number of flights operating between Maldives and India to 5 per week,” noted the Indian High Commission in its statement.
The decision to establish an air travel bubble between Maldives and India was announced by the Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar during a virtual meeting with Maldivian Foreign Minister of Maldives Abdulla Shahid on August 13.
Indian High Commission said that the air travel bubble was established to allow Indian tourists to visit Maldives, allowing the country to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, India was the fastest developing source market for the Maldivian tourism industry, supported by closer bilateral ties between Maldives and India, improved flight connectivity, and an on-arrival visa agreement.
The Indian High Commission noted in its statement that in addition to allowing Indian tourists to Maldives, the air travel bubble will also facilitate the travel of Maldivians seeking medical treatment in India.
“India hopes that with 5 flights per week between India and Maldives, regular flow of Indian tourists to the Maldives will resume, demonstrating on ground India’s firm commitment to supporting the Maldivian tourism sector and thereby the economy,” said the Indian High Commission in its statement.
The decision to increase air travel between Maldives and India comes with Maldives scheduled to reopen guesthouses located in residential islands outside of the greater Male’ region on October 15, providing tourists with an alternative to resorts and liveaboards.
Maldives has ramped up health safety measures ahead of guesthouse reopening by mandating negative PCR results for tourist arrivals.