Vistara will commence a new route from Mumbai to the Maldives on March 3rd. The thrice-weekly service comes as Malé becomes a popular holiday destination, with few border restrictions currently in place. The route will be flown by Vistara’s three-class A320neo.
Jumping on the trend
With travel heavily restricted in 2020, only a handful of countries have stood out for their open border policies. The Maldives is one of these few destinations, allowing travelers globally to arrive with just proof of a negative COVID-19 test. The policy has made Malé one of the top holiday destinations from India, only rivaled by Dubai.
In light of this growing popularity, Vistara is launching its own service between Mumbai and Malé. The new route will operate three times a week, on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday. The flight is a relatively short one at just 2 hours and 45 minutes in both directions.
The outbound flight will leave Mumbai at 13:45 and arrive in Malé at 16:00 local time. The return flight will depart Malé at 17:00 and reach Mumbai at 20:15 local time. As mentioned, the route will fly on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
However, Vistara won’t find it easy to break into the crowded market right now. Both IndiGo and GoAir already serve this route with a daily service, offering more flexibility. Additionally, both the low-cost carriers offer earlier arrivals into Malé, an important factor for leisure destinations due to hotel check-in times.
Pricing and cabin
Vistara is offering low introductory prices to attract travelers to the carrier early. As of now, roundtrip tickets in economy are available for ₹17,699 ($244), premium economy for ₹23,799 ($328), and business class for ₹46,999 ($648). Vistara is also the only airline offering any premium cabins on the route, potentially creating a unique market for itself.
The route is being served by Vistara’s workhorse A320neo, signaling demand for premium cabins on this route. Simple Flying has had a chance to review both premium economy and business class on the Vistara A320neo, along with a full cabin tour.
Premium economy, in particular, offers more legroom and recline, along with better service, than standard economy. Business class on the A320neo is similar to domestic first class in the US, with comfortable recliner seats and full, hot meal service (even now). Both cabins offer many more soft perks to those willing to pay.
As the pandemic drags on and international travel remains subdued, the addition of new destinations is changing the market. Airlines have quickly moved from targeting business-heavy routes to new leisure routes to gain passengers.
The rise of the Maldives is a key example of this, with other Indian airlines like IndiGo also adding new routes to the country in the last year. If travel does not resume soon, we could see a permanent shift in the market soon.