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Manta Air to launch Dhaalu Airport-Bengaluru flights on March 1; to induct two A321

Maldives’ Manta Air is gearing up to launch its commercial operations into to Bengaluru starting March 1. The airline recently conducted a non-commercial flight from Bengaluru to Dhaalu Airport in the Maldives, signaling its foray into the international market. Despite diplomatic tensions between the Maldives and India, Manta Air’s executives remain optimistic about the upcoming venture.

The airline’s 3.5-hour flight aims to establish direct connectivity to Dhaalu Atoll, a region in the Maldives that has faced logistical challenges for tourists. Limited seaplane frequency and a lack of awareness about the area have hindered travel. With the ongoing expansion of Dhaalu Airport, Manta Air aims to draw more tourists to this previously inaccessible destination.

Bookings for the airline’s first commercial flight on March 1 are already open, and the initial response has been positive. Manta Air plans to utilise its 64-seater ATR 72-600 aircraft with dual configuration, offering both premium and economy class seats. Furthermore, the airline has ambitious plans to expand its operations to other Indian cities, including Chennai, Kochi, Mumbai, and Delhi in the near future.

To support this expansion, Manta Air will be adding two Airbus A321s to its existing fleet and investing USD 20 million in the expansion of Dhaalu Airport. The airport’s enhancements include a 30% increase in both arrival and departure sides, along with an extended runway to accommodate larger aircraft by December 2025.

Despite diplomatic challenges, Manta Air remains positive about the potential for travel demand, especially from India to the Maldives, particularly in the honeymoon and family market segments. The post-pandemic surge in travel demand in the Maldives is a driving force behind the airline’s strategic expansion. Manta Air anticipates the involvement of other international carriers, with discussions underway with AIX Connect (formerly AirAsia India) and a potential partnership with Indigo to meet broader demand from various parts of India. The executives believe that the diplomatic tensions will not have a long-term impact on travel and view the Maldives and Lakshadweep as complementary destinations rather than competitors.

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