Sichuan Airlines, one of China's largest carriers, has resumed flights to the Maldives, marking a watershed event in the country's tourism industry. The resume aircraft, carrying 186 passengers, touched down at Velana International Airport at 6:05 p.m. yesterday evening, when it was greeted with a unique water salute, representing the recovery of tourism links.
Sichuan Airlines will operate three weekly flights connecting Chengdu and the Maldives. This move complements the existing Chinese airlines that fly to the Maldives, such as Beijing Capital, which offers weekly charter flights, and China Eastern, which offers weekly scheduled flights every Saturday.
After a seven-year hiatus, the airline is restarting flights. The final flight took place on March 23, 2016.
The resumption of Sichuan Airlines flights at Velana International Airport is expected to promote Maldives tourism and encourage economic growth. Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak and the temporary closing of China's borders, the Chinese market was vital to the Maldives' tourism economy. Since reopening its borders earlier this year, Chinese tourism has steadily increased, and it is now the Maldives' fourth largest source market.
The Maldives, known for its pristine beauty, stunning landscapes, and opulent resorts, has long been a popular destination for Chinese tourists looking for an unforgettable vacation experience. With the restart of Sichuan Airlines flights, the Maldives is well-positioned to regain momentum in recruiting Chinese travelers, further cementing its reputation as an enticing global tourism destination.
The Maldives Airports Company, which operates Velana International Airport, welcomes new airlines to connect the Maldives to the rest of the globe. Efforts are being made to prepare for the forthcoming winter season, with new destinations being added to the flight schedule. Virgin Atlantic will begin service between London and Heathrow Airport in October, greatly boosting connectivity choices.
More than 40 airlines currently operate in the Maldives, linking the island to over 30 international destinations. The Maldives' ongoing efforts to improve accessibility and connection highlight the country's dedication to growing its booming tourism economy.