All Alliance Air flights for Lakshadweep are booked. A route which had 70-80% PLF is completely sold out until March. Why?
Social media posts from some Maldivian Ministers have sparked a boycott campaign against the country. Indians are trending #BoycottMaldives on Twitter and are promoting Indian tourism.
In India, the best alternative to Maldives is the Lakshadweep Island. Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently visited Lakshadweep and urged Indians to promote Indian tourism and visit the island.
Demand for Flights Peak
Boycott campaign against the Maldives along with Mr Narendra Modi promoting Lakshadweep Island resulted in many Indians deciding to visit the Island. Alliance Air is the only airline connecting Lakshadweep Island. The airline operates daily flights between Kochi and Agatti Island with a 70-seater ATR 72.
Due to the peak in demand, all flights of Alliance Air to Lakshadweep until March month have been sold out. As a result, the airline decided to increase the current frequency. Currently, it operates 7 times weekly. From 21 January, the airline will be operating additional twice-weekly flights. This will take the total weekly flights to nine. Additional flights will be operated on Wednesday and Sunday.
An official said that the airline is getting a lot of queries on call and social media regarding the availability of tickets. Following this, the frequency was increased. If needed, more frequencies will be added.
Here are the flight timings:
Are Maldives Flights Affected?
As per social media posts, many Indians can be seen cancelling their flight tickets and hotel bookings at Maldives. Media reported that around 8,000 hotel bookings and 2,500 flight tickets have been cancelled. However, airlines are denying these reports.
IndiGo representative told WIONews that there are no such trends witnessed by the airlines. There are not many flight cancellations. Currently, there are 58 non-stop flights between India and Male Velana International Airport. Out of this, 28 flights are operated by IndiGo. The airline will be shutting down its Delhi to Male service due to non-availability of aircraft. Many aircraft of IndiGo are grounded because of issues with Pratt & Whitney engines.
On the other hand, a Vistara representative confirmed that the airline has not cancelled anything as of now. It is looking at the situation and will take action if needed.
India’s second-largest online tech travel platform, EaseMyTrip has cancelled all flight bookings to Maldives. Although its presence in Maldives was negligible, it gives a strong statement from the service provider.
Government Eyeing New Airport
This peak in demand has opened a huge bracket in front of the government. The air connectivity to and from Lakshadweep is not the best. The only airport on Agatti Island can not handle bigger aircraft than ATR 72. More bad news is that the runway can not be extended because of ecological reasons.
In 2013, there was a proposal to connect the current runway of Agatti Airport to the nearby Kalpati Island. With this, the runway would have been capable of handling aircraft like Airbus A320 and Boeing 737.
However, after conducting an ecological study, it was found that to do so, the runway would have to pass through a turtle colony and Kalpati Island would need to be levelled. As a result of this, the proposal was rejected on grounds of environmental reasons.
Hence, the Indian government has decided to build a new airport at Minicoy Island. Minicoy is the last island located in Southern Lakshadweep. This new airport will include water runways and infrastructure to handle marine traffic as well. Handling o boat traffic is important so that passengers can directly travel through the Islands from the airport itself. This greenfield airport will be used by both, civilian as well as military aircraft. This will help the Indian Coast Guard to enhance their surveillance.
Source: Business Today