China’s Chongqing Airlines has commenced operations to the Maldives. Chongqing Airlines operated its maiden flight from Chongqing to Malé via Colombo, Sri Lanka, according to the Maldives Airports Company Ltd. (MACL).

Chongqing Airlines’ inaugural flight, carrying 82 passengers, touched down at the main Velana International Airport (VIA) on Monday. A special reception ceremony was held at VIA to welcome the arrival of Chongqing Airlines’ first flight.

The event was attended by senior officials, including Tourism Minister Ibrahim Faisal, Chinese Ambassador to the Maldives Wang Lixin, MACL’s CEO and managing director Ibrahim Shareef Mohamed, and Chongqing Airlines’ Vice President Xie Jinping. Representatives from the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) and Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) were also in attendance at the event.

Addressing the gathering, Mohamed highlighted the pivotal role of the state-owned company in bridging the Maldives’ tourism sector with global markets. He underscored MACL’s commitment to collaborating closely with the tourism industry to attract more international airlines to the Maldives.

Mohamed also noted that introducing flights from major Chinese cities would contribute significantly to the Maldives’ economic growth and enhance various sectors, acknowledging the surge in Chinese tourist arrivals and expressing gratitude to stakeholders for boosting tourism numbers.

In his remarks, Chongqing Airlines’ Xie stated that establishing air connectivity between Chongqing and Malé would pave the way for increased economic opportunities. Noting Chongqing’s reputation as a hub for diverse economic sectors, Xie expressed optimism that the airline’s operations would foster closer relations between the business communities of both countries, fostering mutual growth and cooperation.

Chongqing Airlines will operate three weekly flights on the Chongqing-Malé route, using Airbus A320 aircraft with a capacity of 165 seats. With the new service, Chongqing Airlines joins other Chinese carriers, including Beijing Capital, Szechuan Airlines, and China Eastern Airlines, in serving the Maldives.