Mumbai. 16 July 2021. Mumbaikars can now rejoice as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) commences passenger flight operations to Male, one of the most preferred destinations from Mumbai. As Maldives reopens its borders for leisure travel from India, CSMIA is catering to the route in line with the Air Bubble agreement signed between the two countries. With effect from July 15, 2021, CSMIA is offering 04 direct flights, two each by IndiGo as well as GoFirst that are operated twice a weekbetween Mumbai and Male. CSMIA has been working extensively to provide accessibility and connectivity to numerous destinations while offering best-in-class facilities and services along with ensuring safety and comfort while travellers transit from the airport.
Amongst all the destinations that the Indian Government signed an Air Bubble agreement with last year, Maldives emerged as one of the preferred international destination for leisure travel amongst passengers travelling through Mumbai. Travel to Maldives continued through the period of January-March 2020 until the suspension of international passenger flight operations. Since then, CSMIA catered to the route once more from October 2020 onwards.
Overall, during the year 2020, CSMIA witnessed the movement of over 371 flights carrying 46,735 passengers between Mumbai and Male. Prior to the suspension of travel between Maldives and India in May 2021 due to the outbreak of the second wave in India, Maldives continued to have a regular flow of passengers from Mumbai. The airport handled a total of 493 flights carrying approximately 57,765 passengers during this time with the route being operated by IndiGo, GoFirst and Vistara; IndiGo catered to the highest passenger traffic with 31,077 passengers while GoFirst and Vistara handled 23,763 and 2925 passengers, respectively. Furthermore, CSMIA noted over 30,725 departing passengers and 27,030 arrivals, indicative of the preference of city dwellers to travel to the land of white sandy beaches, pristine blue waters, sunny skies and tropical experiences.
The recommencement of flights to Male comes as a boon to travellers from and around Mumbai who are looking to escape the city and unwind themselves. On July 7, 2021, Maldives announced that tourists travelling from South Asia will be issued visa-on-arrival and allowed to stay in Tourist Resorts with effect from July 15, 2021. Towards this end, the Maldives government has also issued a list of resorts along with their respective opening dates to help tourists to plan their travel. The assurance of a visa-on-arrival at Maldives to Indian travelers provides an ease from regulations for enthusiastic adventure-seekers and leisure tourists and encourages spontaneous holiday planning. As a pre-requisite for the visa, passengers need to ensure that their passports have at least 1-month validity from the date of their expected departure in the Maldives as well as provide proof of a confirmed pre-booking at a registered tourist facility. Further enticing travelers, Maldives is also offering a tourist visa extension for long-stay tourists without levying any extra cost.
For safe travel, passengers travelling to Male are required to carry a negative RT PCR test result, wherein the sample was taken within a maximum of 96 hours prior to departure to Maldives. Travelers also have to submit a health declaration form on the Maldives Immigration portal 24 hours before their travel to the islands. Passengers travelling from Mumbai to Male are permitted to seek accommodation in tourist resorts and liveaboards on any of the uninhabited islands of Maldives with effect from July 15, 2021. Additionally, for transit purposes, travelers are also permitted accommodation in designated transit tourist facilities, as approved by the Ministry of Tourism, in the Greater Male Area for up to a maximum of 48 hours while awaiting their departure. Tourist facilities and guesthouses in inhabited islands will open for travelers from India on July 30, 2021.
Furthermore, the Government of Maharashtra (GOM) has announced an exemption from the mandatory requirements of a negative RT-PCR test result for all arriving passengers. As per the latest guidelines issued by GOM, any domestic or international arriving passenger who has received both doses of the vaccine, the second dose having been administered 15 days prior to arrival, does not have to present a negative RT-PCR test report upon entry to the State. With this further ease in regulations, Indians can now plan to tick off Male from their long pending travel list and satiate the thirst for adventure.
Keeping up with its operational excellence while continuously providing world-class services to the passengers, CSMIA continues to provide smooth and efficient operations at the airport. CSMIA’s efforts are focused continually on passenger-centricity whilst offering seamless experiences. With the ease of restrictions from various states and unhindered passenger confidence in the airport’s safety measures, CSMIA expects a steady passenger flow in the future. The airport is working actively with its stakeholders, regulatory and government bodies to implement and communicate necessary protocols and procedures for passengers and personnel’s safety in order to provide a hassle-free transit.