The opening of international flights to Gan airport, adjacent to Addu township in the south of the Maldives, has opened a new era for the region - providing an alternative transportation offering that can save travellers valuable vacation time.
In December, SriLankan Airlines started flying from Colombo to the upgraded Gan airport, formerly a UK Royal Air Force refilling base until 1976 when it became a domestic airport.
SriLankan Airlines now departs Colombo for Gan four times a week – Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays — at 06:55 for the 110-minute journey, using a 150-seat Airbus 320.
“Since we consider Maldives our extended home market, we will explore every avenue to make sure that Gan receives the attention and visibility that it deserves,” said Saminda Perera, general manager, marketing, SriLankan Airlines.
Resorts in the south of the country have responded favourably.
“Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort has added an on-demand 30-minute Trans Maldivian Airlines sea plane service between Gan and our luxurious hideaway to meet the new service and provide additional convenience to our guests,” said John Allanson, general manager of Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort.
Having international services landing directly in Gan, some 545 kilometres south of Male saves an estimated three hours on travel time to resorts in the south as it eliminates the need to connect with a scheduled commercial flight from Male to domestic airports in the south.
Hoteliers in the southern atolls now hope that airlines, especially those with big feeder hubs in the Middle East, will also introduce flights directly to Gan.
Gan international airport is currently served by domestic carriers Maldivian and Flyme, as well as SriLankan.
Private jets are also able to land and park at Gan due to its new international status.