Kazakhstan’s flag carrier Air Astana announced, on Sunday, that the airline will begin operations to Maldives from December 5 onwards.
According to Air Astana, flights will be operated twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays and additionally on Mondays from December 21, 2020.
The airline added that state-of-the-art Airbus A321LR aircraft, which are configured with 16 Business class seats and 150 Economy class seats, will be utilised in the operations.
Air Astana noted that the lie-flat business class seats are equipped with 16-inch individual entertainment screens, with four of 16 seats offering additional personal space. In the economy class, the Recaro seats provide increased comfort for long flights and are equipped with individual 10-inch screens.
Due to the high demand during seasonal holidays, from December 16 to January 16, flights will be operated by the wide-bodied Boeing 767 aircraft, providing additional seat capacity, the airline said.
Furthermore, Air Astana stated that, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, flights will depart Almaty at 0120 hrs local time and arrive in Male at 0705 hrs local time. On Mondays flights will depart Almaty at 0130 hrs local time and arrive in Male at 0715 hrs local time.
The return service from Male’ will depart at 1935 hrs and arrive in Almaty next day at 0310 hrs local time.
As per the airline, fares start from USD 677 in economy class and from USD 2067 in business class, including taxes and surcharges. The prices are subject to variations in exchange rates on the day of ticket issue.
After online application, entrance visas will be issued free of charge upon arrival at the airport and are valid for 30 days from the date of its receipt.
The entry requirements to Maldives include mandatory PCR Test certificate in English with a negative result, which should be valid for 96 hours from the moment of taking the test till the scheduled flight arrival time. Infants under the age of 12 months are exempt from this test.
Passengers are also required to fill in a compulsory medical health declaration, 24 hours before arrival to the destination. In the declaration form, passengers will need to upload a photo of themselves, up to 2 megabytes, as well as a PCR test with a negative result.
Maldives reopened its borders to international passengers on July 15, after nearly four months since the state halted issuing on-arrival visas on March 27. Guesthouses were permitted to resume operations and kick start local tourism on October 15.
Despite the lifting of restrictions, Maldives has noted a significant reduction in tourist arrivals compared to pre-COVID figures. While a total of 382,760 tourists were recorded before borders were closed in March, the latest figures show that tourist arrivals have exceeded 50,000 since July 15.
However, Minister of Tourism Abdulla Mausoom earlier expressed hopes for the industry's recovery, estimating that 100,000 tourists would visit Maldives before the end of 2020. The tourism ministry expects a total of 500,000 arrivals for the year.