LONDON – Maldivian Airlines, the Republic of Maldives flag carrier, is set to receive two new ATR 72-600 aircraft on 4 January. The acquisition signals that air traffic in the archipelagic republic is increasing steadily.
The airline placed an order for the longer ATR 72-600 and also the shorter variant, the ATR 42-600. These orders were made back in January 2022.
The remaining ATR is expected to join sometime this year, but the date is still unknown. Initially, the three aircraft were slated for delivery in October 2022, but this was pushed back due to manufacturing and supply chain issues.
The two ATR 72-600s departed from the Toulouse Blagnac in France for ferrying operations to the Male, Velana International Airport, Maldives.
Much Help Needed
The Maldivian flag carrier temporarily leased a Swiftair-operated ATR 72-500 to cater to the high demand during the peak new year season. Without the leased ATR, Maldivian will struggle to keep up with the demand amid stiff competition from Manta Air.
Maldivian online publication Aviators Maldives stated that the airline’s Managing Director Mohamed Mihad confirmed that the airline will add three more French-made regional turboprops towards the end of 2023, adding the total of the ATR fleet to six.
It is reported that the total purchase cost of the three regional props is approximately USD 60 million via a loan programme.
As the airline is deemed to be the flag carrier of a tiny republic in the Indian Ocean, competition still looms against all odds. There are reportedly the airlines based in the Maldives, the largest being Maldivian, followed by Manta Air and FlyMe respectively.
Competition for international routes for Maldivian may not be so great, as the remainder focuses within the country with occasional charter services to India and Sri Lanka, but the airline’s introduction of newer batches of the ATR signals that competition is still fierce in the local market.
Having six new ATRs in its fleet by the end of 2023 would allow the flag carrier to shine on the domestic market. The other two Maldivian carriers operate both the ATRs and the Twin Otter, which makes it a highly contested market in the Maldivian domestic sector.
The fleet composition for the airline is really interesting, with a sole A320 and the Dash 8 regional turboprop, minus the leased ATR from Swift Air.
The arrival of the ATRs will give a nice fresh touch to the ageing fleet, and this is set to improve the overall economics and the image of the flag carrier.
Currently, the airline has 22 active aircraft. As mentioned, it got a sole A320-200 with the registration of 8Q-IAN, 8 Bombardier Dash 8 Q300 and 2 Bombardier Dash 8 Q200.
For its seaplane fleet, it got 11 DHC-6 Twin Otter Series 300. The new ATRs are set to replace the ageing Dash 8 series. Previously, they owned a sole A321-200 under the registration of 8Q-IAI.