SriLankan Airlines was recently lauded with the prestigious ‘50 years of Tourism Award by MATI’ in recognition of its remarkable service for over half a century, at an event celebrating the Golden Jubilee of Tourism in Maldives. SriLankan was the first international commercial airline to launch operations to the Maldives under its predecessor, Air Ceylon, in 1960 and has continued to break new ground since then and become the only international airline to fly passengers to multiple airports in the Maldives.
The Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) has spearheaded the advancement of tourism in Maldives and aimed to honour organizations and individuals that have contributed exceptionally to this purpose along the way at their Golden Jubilee celebration. Recipients of awards were selected by a committee of industry experts and veterans. Fawzan Fareid, Country Manager Maldives of SriLankan Airlines accepted the award on behalf of the Chief Executive Officer of the airline.
Richard Nuttall, Chief Executive Officer of SriLankan Airlines stated, “The Maldives has always held a special place in the SriLankan Airlines’ network. As the only international airline to have been with Maldives since its inception of commercial flying, SriLankan has witnessed and contributed to every milestone in the journey of Maldives tourism. Over the years, the airline has connected many hundreds of thousands of tourists to the stunning and incomparable beaches of Maldives. Today, SriLankan Airlines remains a key player and global favourite for travel to the Maldives.”
Fawzan Fareid added, “Maldives is our extended home base. My colleagues stationed in different countries within the SriLankan Airlines’ network have all played a role in driving tourists to the Maldives, and therefore I would like to dedicate this award to them. I must also emphasize that SriLankan was the only airline to maintain an uninterrupted service to the Maldives even at the zenith of the pandemic and helped evacuate over 2,000 stranded holidaymakers out of the islands.”
SriLankan Airlines has notched other firsts in the country. The airline made history in Maldives tourism in 2016, by becoming the first and only international airline to launch commercial passenger flights to Gan island in Addu Atoll. Further, the airline recently partnered with domestic carrier Manta Air to provide easy access to several high-end resorts beyond Gan, giving travellers the opportunity to explore remote terrain in Southern Maldives.
SriLankan Airlines is currently the only airline to fly to both Central and Southern Maldives. At present, SriLankan operates 21 flights a week to Malé Velana International Airport in Central Maldives – the main airport of the country, and twice weekly to Gan International Airport. SriLankan also changes the frequency of flights according to seasonal demand and often introduces additional and direct flights to Maldives during Winter to provide European customers greater convenience and choice.
Furthermore, SriLankan is the only international airline to offer flights via Colombo, which is the world’s most convenient hub to connect to the Maldives. Traditionally, the leading source markets to this route have been London, Paris and Frankfurt in Europe; Indian satellite cities Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru; and Dubai, Doha and Riyadh in the Middle East. The route has also gained popularity among travellers originating from Far Eastern cities such as Kuala Lumpur; Bangkok; Singapore; Tokyo; and recently, Seoul. Australian surfers and divers from Melbourne and Sydney are proving to be emerging segments as well.
SriLankan’s future plans for the Maldives include strengthening its hub in Gan and operations to Maafaru International Airport, which will provide tourists the fastest access to resorts and islands in Northern Noonu Atoll.