Qatar Airways lands first international flight after Maldives reopens borders
Qatar Airways, on Wednesday, became the first airline to resume operations to Velana International Airport (VIA) after Maldives reopened borders.
According to the airline, the scheduled flights will connect via Hamad International Airport located in Doha, Qatar, with European and American destinations including London, Copenhagen, Stockholm and New York.
Daily flights from Doha to Male' will depart at 0205hrs and arrive on 0905hrs, while flights from Male' to Doha will take off at 2000hrs and land at 2245hrs.
"We are excited to resume scheduled flights to the very popular tourist destination of Malé, Maldives. We are even more delighted to know we are the first international airline to resume services, showing we are continuing to lead the way", the Country Manager of Sri Lanka and Maldives Yu Cha Terence said.
He further assured that the airline's passengers can travel with peace of mind "knowing their safety onboard is our utmost priority", adding that with the recommencement of daily flights to VIA, passengers "will have greater choice and flexibility when planning a holiday getaway".
"Qatar Airways’ wide network of flights during these challenging times has ensured we have implemented the most advanced safety and hygiene measures onboard our aircraft and in our home and hub".
As an added safety measure, Qatar Airways will provide all passengers with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits including a facemask, disposable gloves and hand sanitiser, in addition to providing a face shield at the check-in ad boarding gates of the airline's destinations.
Moreover, the airline has extended its booking policies to offer more choices to its passengers. Qatar Airways will also unlimited date changes and the option for passengers to change their destination as often as they need, provided that it is within 5,000 miles of the original destination.
The Acting Managing Director of Maldives Airports Company Ltd Moosa Solih expressed delight on welcoming Qatar Airways as the first flight that landed in Maldives, after the borders reopened on Wednesday after three and a half months of being shut down in an attempt to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.
Assuring that VIA has taken all viable safety measures, Moosa Solih stated that Velana International Airport is "set to welcome our passengers with a new seamless experience that I’m sure they will enjoy".
Maldives presently has a total of 2,801 confirmed and 470 active cases of COVID-19. Thus far, the country records 2,302 recoveries and 14 deaths.
As one of the most densely populated cities in the world, Maldives' capital Malé recorded a significant increase in COVID-19 cases in the first weeks following the first confirmed local transmission on April 15.
After recording low numbers for several weeks, there has been a recent spike of virus cases, which has reduced the total amount of recovered patients from 86 to 82 percent.
The number of COVID-19 cases increased after the state initiated efforts to steer the country towards a 'new normal' with the phased easing of lockdown restrictions across the Greater Male' Region. Government offices and businesses including shops, cafe's and restaurants restarted services on July 1 while authorities reopened Maldives' borders for tourism on July 15.
On March 12, WHO classified the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. To date, the new strain of novel coronavirus has infected over 13.5 million people and claimed over 582,784 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, more than 7.9 million people have recovered.