Sichuan Airlines, one of China’s most successful airlines, has recommenced flights to the Maldives after a seven-year pause. The first flight touched down at Velana International Airport at 18:05 on 1 August, carrying 186 passengers on board.

This resumption comes as a significant development for both Sichuan Airlines and the Maldives tourism. Sichuan Airlines will now operate three flights a week; they will use A320 aircraft to connect Chengdu and the Maldives.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic led to China’s borders closing, the country had been the primary source market for Maldives tourism. Now, as the borders have reopened, Chinese arrivals have rapidly increased, positioning itself as the fourth-largest source market for the Maldives. Data from the Tourism Ministry reveals that upward of 67,000 Chinese tourists have already visited the Maldives this year.

Two other Chinese airlines, Beijing Capital and China Eastern Airlines, already operate flights to the Maldives. While Beijing Capital operates a weekly charter flight, China Eastern Airlines offers scheduled flights every Saturday.

Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL), which oversees the operations of Velana International Airport, expressed optimism about the positive impact of the resumption of flights by Sichuan Airlines on the Maldives’ tourism.

MACL has invited several airlines to connect the Maldives with various parts of the world. The airport operator is working to prepare for the upcoming peak season, anticipating flights from new destinations.

More than 40 airlines are now operating flights to the Maldives from over 30 destinations worldwide. Virgin Atlantic is gearing up to launch flights between London Heathrow Airport and the Maldives in October.