Etihad Airways has completed its first flight to Malé and touched down to a colourful welcome in the capital of the Republic of the Maldives this afternoon.
EY flight 278 was honoured with a traditional water cannon salute and the 146 passengers were greeted by local Bodu beru (big drum) dancers and singers performing on the tarmac.
Forward bookings for the daily Airbus A320 service indicate the route is already becoming one of the most popular in the airline’s global network.
“This is a very exciting day for Etihad Airways and we are thrilled to add another new destination, particularly one that is so important to the leisure traveller,” Etihad Airways’ Chief Executive Officer, Mr James Hogan, said.
“We look forward to developing strong ties between the UAE and the Maldives and take our responsibility to bring more people to this part of the world very seriously.”
“It is such a highly desirable destination for our customers, not only from Abu Dhabi but also from Europe,” Mr Hogan said.
Etihad Airways offers a schedule of attractive afternoon arrival and evening departure and European travellers can take advantage of overnight flights in both directions, offering them a full extra day in the Maldives.
The Maldives is made up of close to 1,200 islands grouped into natural atolls; including 200 inhabited islands and 97 resort islands, with a population of close to 300,000 people. The region features deep blue seas, sandy beaches and turquoise reefs, and with its tropical climate and warm temperatures year round, is a renowned honeymoon and leisure destination.
Simon Hawkins, managing director of the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation said: “On the behalf of our tourism industry, the business community and the whole domestic population we are delighted to welcome Etihad Airways to the Maldives.”
“As the world’s premium island beach destination, we are highly dependent on the connectivity from the international airlines. To have a premium airline providing such a high frequency and quality of service as Etihad Airways is tremendously important for us.”
“At a time when the Maldives is recording its highest numbers of visitors and reaching new markets, this is fundamental to our continued economic growth. We very much look forward to a long and healthy partnership with Etihad Airways for many years to come,” Mr Hawkins said.
Tomorrow (2 November) Etihad Airways starts flying from Abu Dhabi to the Seychelles, the first of four flights a week to the capital Mahé.