New virus strain may affect flights operated between UK, Maldives

The flights traveling to the Maldives from the United Kingdom may be suspended after a new, more transmissible strain of the coronavirus has been discovered in the UK.

Several European nations, including Netherlands and Belgium have banned flights from the UK and Germany as a precautionary measure to prevent the strain from reaching their respective countries. This has threatened the operation of flights traveling to the Maldives from these countries.

Two airlines currently operate between Maldives and the United Kingdom. They are British Airways and Sri Lankan Airlines.

According to Inner Maldives, the local travel agency that acts as an agent for Sri Lankan Airlines, no decisions have been made thus far regarding the suspension of flights between the UK and the Maldives. However, while Sri Lankan Airlines is a transit flight for those arriving from Europe, changes brought by European countries will affect the flights, said the company.

Tourism Ministry’s Senior Executive Director, Ali Razan said no decisions have been made to suspend flights between Maldives and the UK until now. However, a decision will be made regarding the matter after discussion with health officials, he added.

The United Kingdom included Maldives in its list of travel-safe countries last October. The UK is considered an important market for Maldivian tourism. Over 15,000 tourists have traveled to the Maldives from the UK since it reopened its borders in July, while a total of 38,000 tourists have arrived from the UK during the current year.