Maldivian, formerly known as Island Aviation is the Maldives’ national carrier. It was revamped in August 2008 as Maldivian to further represent its lifeblood, the values, the nation and the people. It is also the leading domestic carrier of the country, qualifying the title from the dominant domestic carrier in the country. Maldivian currently flies to 10 domestic airports within the country daily. Here’s my recent experience flying with Maldivian from Malé to Gan via Kaadedhdhoo.
Date: 31 Oct 2016
Flight Path: Malé (MLE) – Gan (GAN)
Length: 2 hour 5 minutes (with a 15 minute stop at Kaadedhdhoo – KDM)
Fare: USD 137
CHECK IN: I arrived the airport quite late, the screen at the check-in counter displayed “Counter closed”, but had people in the queue waiting to get checked-in and they allowed us a swift check-in. I still had about 25 minutes before the plane departs, and decided to have a quick coffee at the café right outside the domestic terminal. The domestic terminal at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport is compact and small compared with the international terminal, so there were limited facilities and seats to rest near the boarding gates.
PLANE: The aircraft equipment was a De Havilland Canada DHC-8-300 Dash 8 (50 seats). The airline currently has 6 of the Dash8-300 series aircrafts in its fleet. Our flight had one class configuration with 50 standard Economy Class seats with a seat pitch of 31-32 inches. The cabin rows from 1 to 6 are before the propeller and that’s the loud area. The quieter ride is at the back of the plane, also, the window seats have very limited foot and shoulder room due to the curvature of the aircraft. None of the seats on this aircraft recline.
We were boarded on time. I got a rear facing seat and sat facing everyone else on the flight. I also assumed that I would be allowed to keep my laptop bag with me, but the male flight attendant had me store it in the overhead compartment. A short Islamic prayer was played through the speakers, and right after the prayers, the pilot started the engines and the flight attendant began conducting the safety briefing while the aircraft slowly moved to the runway preparing for take-off. Our flight took off 10 minutes late, at 1345hrs from Ibrahim Nasir International Airport and arrived at Kaadedhdhoo Airport at 1455hrs where several passengers deplaned. The plane took off in 20 minutes to Gan International Airport, the journey took 30 minutes from Kaadedhdhoo Airport to Gan.
ENTERTAINMENT: There was no in-flight entertainment on-board the Dash-8-300 series aircraft. – touch screen system, radio, music or even a USB input to charge the phone or any other device. You will have to bring your own device (laptop, tablet, etc) and ear-phone.
FOOD: No meals were provided, since the aircraft was small and does not have sufficient space for a galley to heat the food and prepare the meals. However, the flight attendant served a beverage service, with a choice of water or a couple of tetra-pack juices. The flight attendant served and handled the beverages without gloves, it’s sad that hygiene standards were not maintained in this flight.
SERVICE: Our plane had two flight attendants, a male and a female. During the take-off and landing, the female sat in her jump seat at the front of the plane while the male flight attendant sat at the back of the plane. The female flight attendant’s facial expressions cycled from looking motionless and expressionless, to breaking out in laughter out of nowhere. The cabin was terribly hot during most of the flight. From my rear facing seat, I saw passengers at the back of the plane waving whatever they had in their hands, left and right, to keep them from sweating. Everyone was in agony during the first 30 minutes of the flight, then many started falling asleep after the short beverage service. The female flight attendant’s uniform consisted of a dark blue knee-length skirt, with turquoise blue long sleeved-shirt with white outlined patterns of dolphins at the center and a scarf with several colorful dolphins. The male flight attendant had a white long-sleeved shirt, a dark blue tie with a dolphin pattern and dark blue trousers.
Dolphins are frequent friends in the Maldivian seas. They also reflect the corporate vision of Island Aviation. The colors used in the livery of aircrafts reflect the striking hues of blue seen while flying over the Maldivian skies, and also revealing the blue ocean of different depths.
Shortly before our flight arrived at Gan International Airport, the flight attendant delivered a beautiful Equator Crossing Certificate as a token of appreciation for flying with the airline to all the tourists who flew on the flight to Gan. You can read more about “Crossing the Equator” contributed by me for Maldivian Holidays, the in-flight magazine of Maldivian here.
CONCLUSION: There is no fierce competition, since other domestic carriers do not fly domestic routes as much as Maldivian does, this makes Maldivian the dominant domestic carrier in the country. There is absolutely so much room to improve within the airline and its services. I wish prosperity to our national carrier and look forward to fly with them soon.