Kazakhstan’s Air Astana Eyes Maldives Route Launch

Kazakhstan’s Air Astana is set to launch direct flights from Almaty to the Maldives. The route, set to launch in early December, will allow tourism to the island. However, as things currently stand, visitors will be confined to their resort for the duration of their stay.

Air Astana, Airbus A321LR, The Maldives
Air Astana is set to launch a new route from Almaty to The Maldives. Photo: Getty Images

For many airlines, long-haul international travel remains at a standstill due to the effects of the  COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, as of the end of September, Air Astana found the international long-haul market was ‘pretty much dead in the water.’ However, where travel is available for leisure purposes, some are keen to take advantage, as previously shown by British Airways.

Twice weekly to start

Air Astana’s direct flight to the Maldives will initially launch on December 5th. This will see an Air Astana aircraft flying to Male on Wednesdays and Sundays. However, from December 21st, an additional weekly flight will begin on Mondays.

Stay informed: Sign up for our daily aviation news digest.

The initial flights will depart from Almaty at 01:30, arriving in Male at 07:05. The aircraft will then spend half the day on the ground in Male before leaving for Almaty at 19:35. Air Astana’s plane will then end up back home at 03:10 the next morning. When the Monday outbound flight launches, it will be timed to operate ten minutes later. The return will retain the original time.

Air Astana, Airbus A321LR, The Maldives
The route will initially launch with an Airbus A321LR. Photo: Air Astana

What aircraft will be used?

The route will initially be launched by the airline’s fleet of new Airbus A321LR aircraft. These feature 16 lie-flat business class seats and 150 economy class seats. While all seats have in-flight entertainment, business class features a 16-inch screen compared to ten inches in economy.

However, Air Astana has already seen that the route will have an exceptionally high demand for the month from December 16th. As a result, until January 16th, the airline will schedule a Boeing 767 on the route to provide additional capacity. Earlier this year, it began using the type for cargo services.

What do passengers on the route need to know?

Of course, traveling internationally is currently much more of a hassle than ever before, given ever-changing border restrictions. Indeed, as the UK has repeatedly shown, what is the case one day may not be the case the next. As things stand today, Leisure travel is permitted between Kazakhstan and The Maldives.

Air Astana, Airbus A321LR, The Maldives
Passengers will need a COVID-19 PCR test in both directions. Photo: Getty Images

According to The Maldives’ immigration website,

“Travelers who are arriving for a stay at a tourist resort or a liveaboard shall stay only at the resort or liveaboard vessel till departure.”

They must also have a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 96 hours before their flight’s arrival time. They will also need to fill in an online health declaration 24 hours before arrival. Part of this process includes uploading a selfie holding the negative certificate. According to Air Astana, entrance visas are issued for free after an online application and are valid for 30 days.

When returning to Kazakhstan, passengers need another PCR test no more than three days before the flight.

Would you travel for leisure if you were confined to a resort? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!