Maldivian: Returning the airbus as it is old and worn out

National airline, Maldivian's airbus. (Photo/Maldivian)

Managing Director of Island Aviation – operator of the national airline, Maldivian – Aishath Jennifer has stated that the airline’s airbus was returned as it was old and worn out.

Refuting allegations claiming Maldivian’s airbus was returned upon inability to make the payments for it – Jennifer told Sun that the aircraft was rented. Underscoring that the lease for the agreement expires on next March – she said it was decided that the airbus will be returned at the expiration of this period.

“As far as I remember, we acquired this aircraft on lease for eight years and two months,” she added.

Jennifer detailed that the decision against renewing the lease was taken as the airbus was old and worn out. She stressed that large expenses were incurred for the aircraft’s maintenance due to its worn out condition.

She also explained that when the airline undertook operations to China using the aircraft, instead of a direct trip, they had to make stop at Bangkok.

Pointing out that there were aircrafts capable of direct travel to China – Jennifer said that competitive airlines to Maldivian were utilizing aircrafts of such capacity for the operations at present.

“Therewith, instead of spending additional money on an old aircraft, we are working on acquiring a new one without extending the lease,” she had said.

However, she said a date when a new aircraft will be acquired is unclear at the moment.

“Before the end of this year, we will be bringing three ATR aircrafts. After that only this aircraft will be acquired,” she added.

Speaking further, Jennifer said that if Maldivian wished to compete internationally, the only choice is to spend on a new aircraft. She noted that the government had also advised the same.

“The government is providing us with utter cooperation as well. They advised acquiring a new aircraft as well. Thus, we have decided to return this aircraft,” she explained.

Former Director of Operations of Maldivian, Captain Mohamed Ameen told Sun that the only reason medical supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic was transported to the Maldives was because of the existence of the airbus. Hence, he stressed it was extremely unwise to return the aircraft without securing a new one.

“I know a lot of expenses will be incurred to acquire a new aircraft. Transferring to Maldives’ registry, and transforming to Maldives’ machinery and changing the registration are all very complex procedures,” he added.

Ameen said that return of the airbus should not be have been a decision the government should have backed at a time Maldivian is under a debt exceeding MVR 400 billion.

Island Aviation was a company which was thriving previously. However, the company currently is in financial ruins, which Ameen detailed as course the company took in 2018.

Emphasizing that Island Aviation was previously managed by experts in the field – Ameen said that the situation of the company today arises from the current administration’s appointment of relatives to managerial posts.