Earlier today, Maldivian national carrier Maldivian announced that it would be adding new flights between its hub at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport in Male, and Mumbai and Chennai. The new flights would operate 3 times per week, and are being launched from November of this year along with Dhaka, Bangladesh (also a thrice weekly operation).
The flights to Mumbai will operate Wednesday / Friday / Sunday, while the flights to Chennai will operate alternately on Tuesday / Thursday /Saturday. All flights are expected to be operated with Maldivian’s newly ordered Airbus A320 aircraft (for lease), which are to be configured in an all economy class 152 seat configuration, though no official aircraft choice has been announced. Given that Maldivian’s current fleet of 5 aircraft is exclusively composed of Bombardier Dash 8 Q200/300 turboprop aircraft (37 and 50 seats respectively) which cannot make the 757 mile route to Chennai or the 1025 mile route to Mumbai nonstop from Male nonstop.
Indirect competition will be provided by India’s national carrier Air India, which serves Bangalore and Trivandrum from Male. Additionally, Maldivian itself serves Trivandrum. There are also news reports that Maldivian will add New Delhi in 2013, but firm plans have not yet been announced.
The success of this route will primarily depend on tourism from the Indian end, which numbered 30,000 in 2011 according to the Maldives Ministry of Tourism, as well as medical travel from the Male end.