Maldivian revolution: world’s largest seaplane airline starts wheel-based operations

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Trans Maldivian Airways (M8), the world’s largest seaplane operator, has revealed an aggressive expansion plan in order to cope with the return of tourists to the Maldives. The airline will add four more 19-seat Twin Otter aircraft by third quarter 2021, reaching a total of 60 of the type in the fleet.

Even more importantly, TMA is going to establish wheel-based operations, by introducing ATR aircraft within 2021. While seaplanes will remain the best way to view Maldives from the sky, they have to be operated during the daylight hours. The wheel planes will supplement TMA’s transfer service and enable it to give a 24/7 transfer solution to all the resorts in Maldives.

TMA’s Twin Otters waiting for passengers at at the airline’s Malé base (Wikimedia / Gzzz)

Trans Maldivian had already operated a couple of ATRs between 2007 and 2009, when they were alienated after making losses. This time, the Italian-French turboprops will be based at the new Madivaru airport, sitting to the north of Malè International airport. Completed in 2020 at the cost of USD 8mln, Madivaru features a 3,940ft (1,200m)-long runway and Trans Maldivian is going to have a wheel plane hangar there.

Founded in 1989, in 2013 Trans Maldivian was bought by the US-based Blackstone Group Fund and merged with Maldivian Air Taxi, to make the world’s largest seaplane operator. Before the Covid pandemic, M8 operated an average of 150 daily flights across the Maldives, serving more than 80 resorts. (Photo Wikimedia Commons / Gzzz)

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