It looks like Maldivian just has too much money, and wants to light some of it on fire. At least that’s the best realistic theory I can come up with to explain this…
Maldivian wants to dry lease a Boeing 787
Maldivian is a government-owned, regional carrier based in the Maldives (you guessed it!). The airline operates a fleet of nearly two dozen aircraft, most of which are turboprops, though also currently has a single Airbus A320. The carrier primarily operates flights within the Maldives (not to be confused with Trans Maldivian, the world’s largest seaplane operator), though also operates short haul international flights to Bangladesh and India.
Well, Maldivian has big expansion plans, at the request of the country’s president. He reportedly wants the national carrier to acquire two wide body jets, in order to fly to China and Europe.
On January 9, 2024, the airline posted publicly, inviting all eligible parties to submit their proposal to provide one Boeing 787-8 aircraft to the airline on a dry lease basis for a period of six years. The airline has set a deadline of January 25, 2024, for interested parties to make proposals.
Prior to that, on December 31, 2023, the airline also posted publicly, inviting eligible parties to submit their proposal to provide one Airbus A330-200 aircraft to the airline on a dry lease basis, for a period of five years. That has a deadline of January 18, 2025.
In both cases, the company is seeking a plane on a dry lease basis, meaning it just wants the plane, and will provide its own crews.
That’s right, the airline wants to acquire two long haul jets, and doesn’t even want any commonality between the aircraft. This is beyond strange.
Now, we’ll see if this actually comes to fruition. Just because the airline is requesting bids doesn’t mean it will actually happen. Hopefully someone at Maldivian crunches some numbers and realizes this isn’t going to end well for the airline.
Why does Maldivian want wide body aircraft?
As mentioned above, the president of the Maldives reportedly wants the national carrier to acquire wide body jets in order to fly to Europe and China. I can’t think of any circumstances where this makes sense.
Let me start by pointing out that the logistics of operating a subfleet of just one aircraft is incredibly challenging under the best of circumstances in terms of maintenance, crewing, scheduling, etc. That’s even trickier when we’re talking about a wide body jet.
The Maldives is also a leisure destination that’s seasonal, so finding long haul destinations to fly these aircraft to year-round in a profitable manner is no small task. I just can’t come up with any scenario where this would be an independently profitable venture.
Now, admittedly the airline is owned by the government, and over the years we’ve seen many governments expand airlines with new long haul service as a way to promote tourism and trade, or in some cases even for vanity.
The Maldives is lucky, as the country already has a ton of service and connectivity from foreign carriers, and it’s particularly well served from the Middle East, Europe, and Asia. Capacity to the island nation just keeps growing.
Not only that, but we also recently saw the launch of Beond Airlines, a new all-business class airline, that hopes to fly dozens of planes to dozens of destinations around the globe from the Maldives (again, that’s still questionable, but the airline has launched, at least).
So the only real explanation I can come up with for Maldivian’s plans is that this is some sort of a vanity project. Is China somehow funding this airline (as the country has done for many projects in the Maldives), or…?
Small regional carrier Maldivian wants to acquire a Boeing 787, an Airbus A330, or both. The airline is looking to lease these planes for a period of five to six years, and would have its own crews fly the planes. While the airline has done okay with its one A320, acquiring wide body jets would be a way more extreme move, and is hard to rationalize.
I’m fascinated to see how this plays out…
What do you make of Maldivian’s plan to acquire a wide body aircraft (or two)?