National carrier Maldivian announced on Tuesday the decision to reduce ticket fares for passengers traveling on rescue flights from India and Sri Lanka.
Maldivian is operating rescue flights to neighboring countries in an attempt to evacuate Maldivians stranded in countries due to travel restrictions imposed over the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking at the COVID-19 press conference held at Dharubaaruge Convention Center, Maldivian’s Media Director Moosa Waseem said that the decision to reduce passenger fares was made after considering several complaints by those stranded about its affordability and after consulting with Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL).
Waseem went on to reveal the adjusted prices: tickets from Colombo, Sri Lanka are now down to USD 220 (MVR 3388) from USD 300, while passengers from Kochin, India can now pay a reduced fair of USD 149 (MVR 2295), down from USD 260.
However, fares for passengers from Malaysia remain unaffected at USD 330 (MVR 5082).
Noting the complaints regarding fares, Maldivian stated that the company was operating the flights without a profit margin.
Maldivian has already repatriated 100 Maldivians stranded in neighbouring Colombo, Sri Lanka as well as 188 from Cochin, India on April 6 and April 7 respectively. A further 200 passengers from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia landed at the Maldives airport on Wednesday afternoon.
Maldivian announced that the company was working to organize additional rescue flights.
The next rescue flight is scheduled from Trivandrum, India to Male' on April 11.
Amid worldwide travel restrictions, Maldives government has maintained its policy to repatriate all Maldivians abroad, who wish to return home.
However, several hundred Maldivian students remain stranded in foreign countries, including those in Bangladesh and Nepal under lockdowns imposed by their respective governments, while students in Belarus have expressed concerns regarding their safety due to Belarus government's inadequate response to COVID-19.