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10 airlines request slots at VIA for border reopening

Shahudha Mohamed
22 June 2020, MVT 13:42
Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL)'s Acting Managing Director Moosa Solih. PHOTO: AHMED AWSHAN ILYAS/ MIHAARU
Shahudha Mohamed
22 June 2020, MVT 13:42

Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL) revealed that a total of 10 airlines were seeking slots at Velana International Airport (VIA) in time for Maldives' reopening of borders, slated to take place in July.

According to MACL's Terminal Manager Ibrahim Hussain, airlines that have proposed to re-commence scheduled flights include Qatar Airways, Emirates, Sri Lankan Airlines and IndiGo.

Ibrahim Hussain added that Sri Lankan Airlines alone, has expressed wishes to land three flights daily in Maldives.

Speaking at the Parliament Committee for State-Owned Enterprises (SOE), MACL's Acting Managing Director Moosa Solih stated that the number of flights proposed by the aforementioned airlines may vary, depending on how the situation progresses.

However, he noted that the airlines have proposed to schedule more flights in three months' time for the beginning of high-season.

"They have already filed twice, thrice [the number of flights] for the season. They do not want to give up the timings or the slots. Some have even booked with the intention of securing [particular] slots", Solih said.

Despite the ongoing pandemic, he noted that safety protocols are in place and VIA is fully equipped to handle multiple flights landing at the airport per day.

Solih added that the company had the capability to make all the necessary arrangements for any flight within 20 minutes of landing.

Remarking that the airlines wishing to resume flights are very hopeful, Solih stated that MACL shared Ministry of Tourism's aspirations to bring 900,000 tourists to Maldives during the remaining months of 2020.

In addition to international flights, MACL estimates that domestic airlines will operate approximately 20 flights each day when airports across the archipelago open next month.

The state is currently gearing up to reopen the country's borders on July 1, after the closure on March 27 as a measure to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation had formerly estimated that the frequency of private and chartered flights landing in Maldives with the reopening will be higher than scheduled flights.

Therefore, the state is currently working on providing necessary permits to Maafaru International Airport in Noonu Atoll and Villa International Airport in Alif Dhaalu Atoll to cater for private and chartered flight operations.

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