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Qatar Airways land first Airbus A350 as new airlines begin direct flights

Qatar Airway’s new service coincided with two new airlines launching direct flights to Malé ahead of the peak season of the tourism industry from December to March. 



Qatar Airways became the first airline to fly the state-of-the-art Airbus A350 to the Maldives last week.

The national carrier of Qatar upgraded its current double-daily A330 service with the first A350 beginning operations last Tuesday and the second A350 joining on Friday.

“We are proud to be the first airline to fly our Airbus A350 to the Maldives. As one of the airline’s most in-demand destinations, we are delighted to be upgrading our aircraft and providing our passengers with the ultimate comfort and services on board one of the most technologically innovative aircraft in the sky,” said Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive.

The captain of the maiden flight was Maldivian pilot Tholhath Anwar, local media reported. The airline’s senior vice president also travelled on the flight.

Since launching flights to the Maldives in December 2001, Qatar Airways used an A330 aircraft, which has 30 seats in business class and 275 in economy class. The Airbus A350 features a total of 283 seats, the second largest capacity after the A380 aircraft.

According to the state airport company, the Maldives is presently the only South Asian destination for the A350 aircraft.

Qatar Airway’s new service coincided with two new airlines launching direct flights to Malé ahead of the peak season of the tourism industry from December to March.

Italy’s largest airline Alitalia resumed direct flights from Rome on November 1 after a long hiatus.

The first Alitalia flight came to the Maldives in 1985 as a charter flight. Its A330 aircraft has a seat capacity of 250 passengers and has a schedule of thrice weekly flights.

Air France also began twice-weekly flights from Paris on Wednesday. The Boeing 777-200 has a capacity of 312 seats.

After declining in recent years, arrivals from France increased by four percent from January to August compared to the same period last year. Arrivals from Italy grew by 23 percent, reaching 58,619 tourists at the end of August.

In June, the Maldives joined a bloc of Saudi-led nations in severing 33-year-old diplomatic ties with Qatar but later clarified that commercial and trade ties would remain unchanged. Aside from Qatar Airways, local telecoms company Ooredoo Maldives is also a subsidiary of Qatari telecommunication giant Ooredoo Group.

On Wednesday, the football associations of Maldives and Qatar signed a five-year cooperation agreement in Doha.

“With regard to the current political issues, I think sports and politics should be separate. Maldives FA and Qatar FA are brothers and our relationship will remain as it has always been,” Bassam Ali Jaleel, chairman of the Maldives association, was quoted as saying by Qatari media.

“We get a lot of assistance from the government to develop the game. Everything that we do in the Maldives FA, the current government knows about it and we also brief them about everything that’s going on. In fact, when our national senior team came here (Qatar), we informed the government that the team is going for the training camp and they were happy with that, as our country believes in separating politics from football.”

Qatar is preparing to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.