Etihad Airways’ inaugural flight from Abu Dhabi to the Maldives touched down to a colourful welcome in the capital Malé last Tuesday.
EY flight 278 was honoured with a traditional water cannon salute, and its 146 passengers were greeted by local bodu beru (big drum) dancers and singers on the tarmac.
“This is a very exciting day for Etihad Airways and we are thrilled to add another new destination, particularly one that is so important to the leisure traveller,” Etihad Airways’ chief executive officer, James Hogan, said.
“We look forward to developing strong ties between the UAE and the Maldives and we take our responsibility to bring more people to this part of the world very seriously.
“It is such a highly desirable destination for our customers, not only from Abu Dhabi but also from Europe,” Mr Hogan added.
Etihad Airways – that national airline of the UAE – is operating a daily return service from its home base in Abu Dhabi to Malé International Airport on an Airbus A320 aircraft, configured with two cabins and offering 1,904 seats each week.
Simon Hawkins, managing director of the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation, said: “As the world’s premium island beach destination, we are highly dependent on the connectivity from the international airlines. To have a premium airline providing such a high frequency and quality of service as Etihad Airways is tremendously important for us.”
This flight comes a week after Etihad also started flying to the Seychelles, further expanding their list of destinations. Etihad also has a number of code sharing agreements in place with partner airlines, making it more convenient for travellers as only one ticket is needed, even if transfers are involved.