European, GCC arrivals set to grow with Etihad Airways’ additional flights

Tourist arrivals to the Maldives from the GCC and European countries are expected to grow next year with the increased frequency of Etihad Airways operations between Abu Dhabi, UAE and Malé, Maldives. Etihad Airways recently announced four additional weekly flights on the popular Abu Dhabi – Malé route, taking frequency to the Maldives to 11 services a week from June next year.

The extra flights, effective June 15, 2018, will operate year-round and provide more travel options with an early morning arrival enabling guests to maximise their stay in the Maldives, according to the airline.

The Maldives attracted over 511,824 visitors from the European market between January and October this year, accounting for 45.5 percent of the total tourist arrivals – a 10.7 percent growth compared to the same period last year. The increased frequency of flights to the Maldives by Etihad Airways is expected to see this figure grow next year, especially from major markets including UK, Germany, France, Italy and Russia.

84,679 tourists visited the Maldives from the UK between January and October, while the number from Germany was recorded at 91,238. A total of 33,529 French tourists visit the Maldives during the period, as the number of Italian tourists totalled 67,094. A total of 47,943 also visited the Maldives from Russia during the period.

Looking at the GCC market, a total of 42,740 tourists visited the Maldives between January and October, with the highest number of visitors recorded from Saudi Arabia – totalling 17,458. The number of visitors from the UAE totalled 8,927, which is a 35.1 percent growth compared to the January-October period last year.

This number is expected to grow with the additional flights between Abu Dhabi and Malé. According to the airline, the expansion of the current daily operation will continue to see a two-class A320 aircraft on the route, offering 16 seats in Business Class and 120 in Economy.

“We are increasing frequency to 11 flights a week in order to cater to growing demand on the route, and to provide our guests with more choice of flights so that they can make the most of their stay in the Maldives,” says Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways Chief Executive Officer.

Since launching the route in November 2011, Etihad Airways has flown more than 550,000 passengers to and from the Maldives. Visitors from the UAE increased 35 percent over the past 12 months, while Europe continues to be the main source market for the Maldives, one of the world’s premium honeymoon and leisure destinations.