Direct flights operated by South African Airways are scheduled to start from Johannesburg to Addu Atoll's Gan in Maldives.
The announcement was made Thursday.
Weekly flights are scheduled to make trips from Africa to Gan starting November 24. Allotted to make these trips are A340 Airbuses which are estimated to carry approximately 300 tourists every week to Addu.
Currently, there are several flights flying between Sri Lanka and Addu.
Speaking at a news conference held at the Ministry of Tourism, Minister Moosa Zameer highlighted the increase in the number of tourists visiting the Maldives from Africa, stating that with the introduction of flights between Johannesburg and Gan, there is an expected increase in this number. He further mentioned the opportunity for Addu to expand their flourishing economy when more tourists are able to access the southernmost atoll.
An estimated number of 9,000 tourists visited the Maldives from South Africa last year.
Popular tourist spots in Addu include well-known tourist hotel Equator Village, Shangri-La Resort, as well Herathera Resort. Addu City currently boasts the capacity of 800 tourist beds.
Moosa Zameer further stated that the introduction of international flights to Gan will also increase the number of tourists traveling to the resorts in the south of Maldives. He revealed that local airline 'Maldivian', as well as TMA's seaplanes will start flying tourists from Gan to the southern resorts. TMA's seaplanes had previously been in operation in Addu, however declined due to not meeting the required turnover.
As reported by Hussain Afeef from KASA Holdings, the company that owns Gan International Airport, passengers flying in from Africa are currently weathering a journey of 12 hours. However with the introduction of the direct route to Gan, this journey will be reduced to seven hours. He further mentioned the projected benefits to Addu's guesthouses and resorts with the introduction of these direct flights.
Africa is a country from which a number of imports are made to the Maldives including meats and vegetables. These flights are expected to expand the import trade, as well as aid exports from the Maldives.
According to the tour operator in charge, 'Air Tour Operators', Addu caters to many facilities required by tourists flying to this destination. They further highlight African Airways being a world renowned airline and that the introduction of these flights gives access to passengers and tourists from all over the world to visit Maldives.
There are more routes to be determined to Gan via African Airways. These new routes include flights flying between Hong Kong and Gan.
As stated by Mohamed Latheef, the managing Director of Gan International Airport, the airport has potential to branch out and cater to even more international airlines.