MALDIVES: AIRLINES STEP-UP FREQUENCIES FOLLOWING QATAR AIRWAYS BAN

How could the recent crisis between Qatar and its neighbours also have a ripple effect on Maldives’ tourism? The Maldives are among the Muslim countries that decided to cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar last June.

From January to May, tourism growth to the Maldives accelerated. The archipelago received 575,000 international travellers, up by 5.8% over the same period of 2016 with Europe’s market share reaching 50.8% of all arrivals.

Until June, Qatar Airways flew twice a day from Doha to Male with an Airbus A330-300 offering, on average, a daily capacity of 500 to 600 seats. However, its market share remained small. According to the Maldives Civil Aviation, Qatar Airways transported 77,000 passengers in 2015, a market share of 5.1%. The airline remains far behind Emirates (280,000 passengers), Sri Lankan (273,000), Singapore Airlines (132,000) and two local carriers. New flights are, however, compensating Qatar’s departure. In July, Etihad increased weekly frequencies from 7 to 11; in August, Thai AirAsia launches a daily flight from Bangkok. This coming winter, Air France will inaugurate two weekly services from Paris, Alitalia will propose three flights/week from Rome while Aeroflot will increase its Moscow frequencies from 3 to 5 weekly services.


Photo: A Trans Maldivian Airways floatplane to the north of Bathala island, Maldives