Operating a business jet to the Maldives
Surrounded by the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean and basking in nearly year-round sunshine, the Maldives, a traditionally challenging destination for operators of business jets, is experiencing a surge in investment and infrastructure development in recent years.
The number of private jets coming to is expected to continue to grow at 7-10 percent per year, and one or new International Airports are being developed to help accommodate the traffic. The Maldives government is targeting a 35 percent increase in visitors to the Maldives in 2019, with significant increases in subsequent years.
If you’re planning on operating to the Maldives, here’s what you need to know:
1. When is peak season for the Maldives?
Peak season for the Maldives runs from November to March. Although, a warm, tropical climate year round, monsoon season runs from May to October.
2. Primary airport
Velana International Airport (VRMM) is the primary international airport used by business aviation operators. It is located on Hulhulé Island in the North Malé Atoll, nearby the capital island Malé.
VRMM is open 24/7, however, the runway is closed for operations from 1900Z to 0100Z daily.
3. Transport from VRMM
There are two primary ways to travel from VRMM to Malé:
- Taxis are available in front of the arrival terminal and usually take approximately 15 minutes to reach Malé
- Boats (Dhoni) are available about 100 meters away from the arrival terminal and take approximately 10 minutes. Dhoni operate every 10 minutes.
Helicopter service is not available. Speed boat and seaplane transfers can be arranged directly to your resort.
- Non-peak season: To request a permit from Maldives Civil Aviation, operators should apply at least one week prior to their arrival date during off-peak season (March to August).
- Peak season: Permit requests during peak season (November to March) should be sent as early as possible, at least one month prior. If it is a last-minute request, your handler can continue to check for a last-minute cancellation of other jets in order to obtain a permit, however, this is not guaranteed.
Obtaining parking during peak season can be difficult. If parking is not available at VRMM, operators are advised to perform drop-and-gos at VRMM and proceed to Gan International Airport (VRMG) to park.
Your parking permit, once received, is valid for arrival, parking and departure slots. It is not necessary to obtain a separate permit for arrival and departure slots.
7. Aviation fuel
All fueling is done by Maldives Airport Company Limited (MACL) and there is no dedicated fuel truck for general aviation. Operators must submit a fuel release via email directly to therefore the fuel release has to be emailed direct to MACL at least 48 hours prior to fueling.
Usually, fuel shortages are not an issue. However, during peak season, there are sometimes delays.
8. Customs – how does the process work upon landing?
For passengers using the CIP Lounge, Customs procedures are carried out by the lounge staff. Crew is cleared through a separate belt in the main terminal by your handler.
9. Visa requirements
All passengers and crew will be granted 30 days visa on arrival. However, all passports should be valid for a period of six months upon arrival and machine-readable.
10. Weather considerations
The Maldives has two dominating seasons: a dry season (associated with dry northeast winter monsoons) and a wet season (associated with moist southwest monsoons and strong winds and storms). The dry season has little rain and lower humidity; it lasts from December-April. Strong winds can be experienced during the Monsoon period (May through October).
The Maldives are growing in popularity as an international tourist destination for operators of private jets. Government, local and foreign investors are making significant investment in local infrastructure, including the first and only New Bridge connecting the airport and the capital of Male. A new runway that will accommodate super wide body high capacity airliners (A380 and B787), and higher frequency of landings, and more parking and a new Airline Passenger Terminal are also under construction now. Additionally, a new Sea Plane Terminal is under construction to accommodate the growing number of flights and operators.