Maldives' Island Aviation to launch int'l services

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Maldivian domestic carrier Island Aviation Services has received an international air operator’s certificate (AOC) and plans to launch international passenger services in July and later in the year add its first Bombardier Dash 8-300.

The carrier currently has a fleet of one Dash 8-200, one Dash 8 Q200 and two Dornier 228-200s that it uses domestically but it is now seeking to add a Dash 8-300, says the airline’s spokesman in Male, adding that it will consider both the -300 and the newer-model Q300.

It has published a notice in ATI’s sister publication Flight International asking for offers to be submitted by 1 March.

The carrier wants to either purchase or dry-lease the aircraft, says the spokesman, adding that it wants the aircraft in a single-class configuration.

“We are planning to get the [Dash 8-300] aircraft by October or November,” says the spokesman.

“The -200 has 37 seats and the -300 has 50 seats. The -300 is required for domestic sectors depending on demand.” The spokesman adds that having a larger-capacity Dash 8 gives the airline greater flexibility to meet increases in passenger traffic.

Island Aviation Services currently serves four destinations from its Male base.

The new international services will launch using the Dash 8-200 or Q200 and the first will be from the Maldives to Trivandrum in southern India.

Its international services will be from the capital Male. But the carrier also plans to have international services from other destinations in the Maldives, namely Gan in the south and Hanimaadhoo in the north, although currently Male is the only place in the country that has an international airport, says the spokesman.

This means the airline is speaking to the authorities about having international customs, immigration and quarantine facilities installed at the other two airports so these too can handle international passengers.

The spokesman declines to say which other cities overseas the airline is planning to serve but says that even though southern India is the first it also plans to serve other countries.

Once the third Dash 8 joins the fleet, the airline will be looking to add more aircraft but at this stage the spokesman declines to comment further on this.

A statement on the airline’s website says the Maldives Civil Aviation Department on 21 January officially granted Island Aviation Services an international AOC.

The Maldives’ Government owns Island Aviation Services and launched it as a domestic operator in 2000. It was first created using some of the assets of failed international flag carrier Air Maldives, which was a joint venture between the Government and Malaysian company Naluri.

Island Aviation Services faces increased competition on domestic routes because next month local carrier Trans Maldivian Airways, which currently only operates 19-seat aircraft, plans to add a 50-seat ATR 42 to its domestic network.

The spokesman says the country’s tourism industry “is very healthy. All the resorts are full and there are new resort developments coming up and these new resorts will be opening” in this year’s second half.