Air China to commence direct flights to Maldives

Tourists pictured at INIA. FILE PHOTO: NISHAN ALI/MIHAARU

Tourists pictured at INIA. FILE PHOTO: NISHAN ALI/MIHAARU

China’s national carrier Air China is preparing to commence direct flights to the Maldives, announced Chinese Ambassador to the Maldives Wang Fukang on Wednesday.

He told reporters that China’s flag carrier is preparing to begin operations from Chinese capital Beijing to Velana International Airport. Expressing hopes to see operations commence soon, the Ambassador stated that the Chinese Embassy in the Maldives is also aiding the venture.

Noting that Beijing’s population of approximately 2 million people far surpasses the total population of the Maldives which is only over 400,000, the Ambassador assured that directly linking the capitals of the two Asian allies will increase the number of tourists from China to the Maldives.

The only carriers that currently operate between Beijjing and Maldives capital Male are the local Mega Maldives Airlines and the Chinese private carrier Capital Airlines. While the two airlines operate flights from the Maldives to other cities of China as well, 11 other airlines operate chartered flights between the two countries.

China, which had dominated the Maldives’ tourism market over the past five years and maintained its progress, had drastically fallen over the past year. The latest statistics of the Ministry of Tourism show that the number of tourists hailing from China had dropped from 30,714 in October 2015 to 29,444 in October last year, which is a decrease of 4.1 percent. China’s share of the Maldives’ tourism market had also nosedived to 25.1 percent.

Many Chinese companies are also investing in the Maldives’ tourism sector. While three firms are already developing new resorts in the archipelago, the government has recently sold the popular uninhabited island of Feydhoo Finolhu in Kaafu atoll to an undisclosed Chinese company.

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