There is only one operational international airport in the Maldives – Male' International Airport. The current domestic terminal on the southern island of Gan has been upgraded to a new international airport, and will be handling international charter flights. Two charter seaplane companies operate in the Maldives, Trans Maldivian and Maldivian Air Taxi, both of which operate from the seaplane port next to Male’ International Airport to resorts throughout the country. Maldivian Airlines is the country’s government-owned national carrier based at Male International Airport and operates domestic and regional services.
Civil Aviation Department of the Maldives is the country’s aviation regulator, and aims to develop and administer policies and regulations to ensure the safe, secure, orderly and economic development of aviation in the Maldives.
Airports in Maldives
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It is better late than never for Hong Kong to use its proximity and scale with mainland China to cater to the booming China-Maldives market. Chinese nationals are the single largest inbound group to the Maldives, with 230,000 visitors in 2012 – more than double the next largest market, Germany, with 98,000 visitors in 2012. A few weeks after Hong Kong Airlines resumed service to Male, the main gateway of the Maldives, Cathay Pacific on 22-Jul-2013 opened reservations for four weekly flights from 27-Oct-2013. Reflecting inertia at the legacy carrier, Cathay spent over a year deliberating on whether to serve the Maldives, while Singapore Airlines and scheduled/charter carrier MEGA Maldives effectively cleaned up the market.
Cathay's services will bring stiff competition to SIA. Cathay and its Dragonair subsidiary have a far deeper China network than SIA and its SilkAir subsidiary, and connecting through Hong Kong is shorter than via Singapore. But SIA has a strong frequency advantage – double daily – and uses regional aircraft light on premium seats whereas Cathay will use a long-haul aircraft heavy on premium seats.
Although there is considerable wealth in the outbound Chinese leisure market, it is still price sensitive and primarily package-driven. Existing operators Hong Kong Airlines and MEGA Maldives should consider gaining scale to reduce unit costs.
Air Mauritius is well on the road to recovery, a year into a five-year plan that aims to implement a new business model that restructures its operations to become less dependent on traditional, but flagging, European markets and instead turn the airline’s focus to the growth markets around the Indian Ocean Rim and Asia.
A seven step recovery plan launched in Feb-2012 as profits crumbled into losses saw Air Mauritius undertake a major network consolidation which involved withdrawing its services to Germany, Italy and Switzerland as well as service reductions to China, Australia and Africa. But, with its network brought back into balance, and profitability restored, Air Mauritius has resumed a growth path with plans to launch a direct service to Beijing and reinstating some suspended routes and capacity in key markets.
The Seychelles attracted 4,500 Chinese tourists in 2012, so it and flag carrier Air Seychelles look with envy to the Maldives, which in 2012 had 230,000 Chinese tourists. Air Seychelles hopes to attract a greater number of Chinese visitors not only from its flights departing Hong Kong, the first of which left on 25-Mar-2013, but via traffic feed across mainland China from a pending partnership with Cathay Pacific that it hopes to announce in coming weeks. In exchange for feed, Air Seychelles' link will enable Cathay to sell the Seychelles, finally giving it a presence in China's booming demand for luxury tropical getaways. And the Cathay partnership may be extended to Air Seychelles' part-owner Etihad Airways.
Air Seychelles links Mahe to Hong Kong via Abu Dhabi, effectively giving Etihad Airways – which owns 40% of Air Seychelles – an Abu Dhabi-Hong Kong flight via codeshare in absence of its own service to Hong Kong due to aircraft shortages. This use of open air service agreements, at Air Seychelles/Etihad and globally, is only in its early days. A MoU between the Seychelles and Australia could also in the long-term allow Air Seychelles to expand Etihad's footprint in Australia at a time when competitor Emirates is dominating the continent and the UAE-Australia bilateral capacity is capped.
SriLankan Airlines is planning to focus expansion on existing and new markets in Asia ahead of the carrier’s ascension into the oneworld alliance. SriLankan is now on course to formally become oneworld’s smallest member in Nov-2013.
The government-owned carrier is currently focused heavily on South Asia, which accounts for 41% of its international seat capacity. SriLankan’s network in South Asia, particularly India and the Maldives, is its main draw to oneworld. But North Asia is SriLankan’s target growth market, with more capacity to greater China and the likely launch of flights to South Korea. SriLankan’s North Asia expansion could be boosted by a relationship with Cathay Pacific, which is sponsoring SriLankan’s membership into oneworld.
India’s GMR Infrastructure has released financial highlights for the three months ended 31-Dec-2011 including specific data for Delhi, Hyderabad, Male (Maldives) and Istanbul Sabiha Gocken airports. EBITDA increased in all cases, but the post-tax loss also widened at Delhi due to the continuing impact of a court order to suspend collection of airport development fees there since mid-2011, pending regulatory approval.
The Maldives, located in the Indian Ocean to the southwest of Sri Lanka and straddling the equator, is a nation of just 395,000 people. It is home to a few small airlines: Maldivian Airlines, the country’s government-owned national carrier; start-up carrier MEGA Maldives Airlines and a couple of charter seaplane companies, Trans Maldivian, flyme and Maldivian Air Taxi, which operate from the seaplane port next to Male’s International Airport - the nation’s sole international airport - to resorts throughout the country.