Island Aviation Services Limited (IASL) and Maldives Fund Management Corporation (MFMC) have inked a partnership agreement to establish a new national airline with an ‘international’ focus. In a statement following the signing of the agreement on Thursday, 31 August, IASL, the parent company of national carrier Maldivian, said the collaboration will focus on operating long-haul flights, in addition to establishing a more international footprint for the proposed new airline.

The partnership aims to establish key footholds in important tourist markets, including China and Russia, as well as other vital European destinations. This approach is intended to sustain and enhance the Maldives’ tourism product while leveraging the nation’s status as a top-tier destination to ensure the growth and success of its operations.

The Maldives’ previous national carrier, Air Maldives, had been in operation for more than 25 years before a sudden bankruptcy in 2000. This bankruptcy followed an expansion into international markets, leading to the airline’s shutdown and the transfer of national carrier duties to IASL, which rebranded the airline as Maldivian.

While IASL has a breadth of experience in the domestic market, with a limited regional footprint in terms of international destinations, this collaboration will mark MFMC’s first foray into the highly competitive international airlines market.

IASL is a wholly state-owned enterprise and is the operator of the national airline, Maldivian. Maldivian operates nationwide domestic flights and, according to the company’s website, also maintains international services to India, Bangladesh, Thailand, and China from its main hub at Velana International Airport.

MFMC is a 100 percent state-owned company formed with the stated objective of seeking capital market solutions for private sector development. This includes creating opportunities for local and foreign investors to benefit from investment in various sectors of the Maldivian economy.