On July 3, 2021, Spanish national flag carrier Iberia flew its first-ever flight to the Indian Ocean’s beautiful Maldive Islands. A longtime favorite destination for honeymooners, the Maldives is famous for its white-sand beaches and warm crystal-clear turquoise waters.
The maiden journey Iberia flight number IB6791 departed Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suárez Airport (MAD) at 21:20 for the ten-hour 20 minute flight arriving at Velana International Airport (MLE) at 11:15 local time. The aircraft used for the flight was a 7.8-year-old Airbus A330-300 with the registration EC-LYF.
The flight was greeted with a water cannon
According to a statement released by Iberia, the aircraft named Juan Carlos I was carrying 218 passengers. When the plane arrived at Male Airport, the captain made the following announcement over the PA:
“Nothing makes the crew more excited than to share with all of you this maiden flight to the Maldives. Keep your eyes on the windows because the Velana International Airport will welcome us with a fantastic water arch.”
Until the end of August, Iberia will offer three weekly flights from the Spanish capital to Male on a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with returning flights to Madrid on a Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. The flights depart Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suárez Airport (MAD) at 11:25, arriving at Velana International Airport (MLE) at 11:25 local time. The return flight back to Madrid departs MLE at 22:00 and arrives at MAD 06:10 the next day.
Iberia will use A330-300s and A330-200s
On the new route, Iberia will deploy Airbus A330-200 and A330-300 aircraft capable of carrying 288-292 passengers, respectively. When speaking about the new route in the Iberia statement Director of Commercial, Network Development & Alliances María Jesús López Solás said:
“The Maldives route represents Iberia’s first Indian Ocean destination, which happens to be one of the safest from COVID-19.” Adding, “Without doubt, the Maldives is one of our star products for this summer, and at Iberia, we’re committed to opening up new markets and to attracting sustainable, quality tourism.”
Initially, Iberia was only going to fly to the Maldives twice a week but added an extra flight after tour operators started block booking seats. When speaking about the new Iberia flights CEO and Managing Director of Maldives Airports Ltd Gordon Andrew Stewart said:
“It is a special privilege to welcome Iberia, the flagship carrier of Spain, on its maiden voyage. The direct flights from Madrid to the Maldives will surely open doors for a much stronger European connection in the days ahead. We are confident that Iberia will add value to our airport and boost Maldives tourism. I would like to convey my special thanks on behalf of Maldives Airports Company Ltd to the Iberia team for choosing Velana International Airport in their route expansion.”
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The Maldives is safe to visit
The Maldives reopened its borders to tourists last summer except for its capital, Male, where most COVID-19 cases were detected.
Despite a few setbacks, the Maldives has been a coronavirus tourism success story, with the trend expected to continue throughout 2021. All non-Maldive citizens arriving in the islands who are not fully vaccinated must show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 96 hours before departure.
The results of the negative PCR test must be attached to the Traveler Health Declaration form, which must be submitted online within 24 hours before arrival. Visitors are also asked to download the national contact tracing app, TraceEkee, and use it during their stay in the Maldives.
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