Holidaymakers keen to travel to the Maldives from the UAE will soon have another way to get there.
Low-cost airline flydubai will be launching flights to Gan International Airport in the southern tip of the Indian Ocean archipelago, starting in February.
The budget carrier will operate a daily flight to the second biggest international airport in the Maldives from February 4, making it the first UAE airline to operate to Gan, a former British Royal Air Force base.
Perfectly located for travellers flying to the Southern Atolls, the airport lies in proximity to several resorts including the Equator Village, Canareef Resort Maldives and the on-the-market Shangri-La's Villingili Resort & Spa, Maldives.
Together with existing flights to Velana International Airport in Male, flydubai will operate 28 services a week between Dubai and the Maldives from February.
“The start of our daily flights to the southern island of Gan will give our passengers more options to travel to the beautiful Maldives. This new service will reduce the commute time whether by boat or seaplane for those staying in resorts in the Southern Atolls,” said Ghaith Al Ghaith, chief executive at flydubai.
“The Maldives continues to be one of the most popular leisure destinations for our customers from the UAE, GCC and CIS. The additional frequency to the market will further support connecting traffic from Europe as well.”
Gan flights leave Dubai just after 9am, arriving in the Maldives at 4pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. On every other day of the week, the flight leaves Dubai at 2.30am, with travellers landing in the Addu Atoll just after 9am.
Despite flydubai’s reputation as a low-cost airline, economy fares on the route start from Dh4,050 ($1,102), and business class fares will set travellers back Dh7,400. That’s substantially higher than Wizz Air Abu Dhabi’s recently launched Maldives flights to Velana, where basic one-way fares start from Dh319.
But for travellers staying in southern destinations, flying into Gan could reduce resort transfer fees as nearby islands are reachable via a short speed boat ride instead of seaplane transfer, if coming from Male.
From a coral runway to the Maldives' second-busiest airport
First built by the British Royal Navy, Gan International Airport originally operated with a coral runway and welcomed its first aircraft — a Royal Air Force Westland Walrus — almost 80 years ago.
The hub was transferred to the Royal Air Force and a permanent runway was added. It was used as a staging post for aircraft on their way to Singapore and other East Asian destinations.
In 1976, the British handed the airport over to the Maldivian government and it began its new tenure as a domestic airport, before being upgraded to support international flights.