A new all-business-class airline, Beond, will launch next month with flights from Europe and the Middle East to the Maldives, a top honeymoon and resort destination.
The plans, unveiled at a recent news conference in Dubai, are for a “premium leisure airline” catering to a surge in travelers who are flocking to the Indian Ocean archipelago post-pandemic. Dozens of new hotels are opening every year, despite – or perhaps because of – predictions that the island chain is seriously threatened by rising sea levels due to climate change. That’s stirring interest from those who want to see the country while they still can.
Recently, the Maldives was named the world’s top bucket list destination by citizens of 121 countries in a survey by European tour operator Kuoni inspired by postcard-perfect scenes of palm-fringed beaches.
The airline will debut in the first half of November with twice-weekly flights from three cities: Munich, Zurich, and Riyadh, to Male, the Maldivian capital. In 2024 the carrier plans to add Milan to its route map. Flights are via single-aisle, Airbus A319 aircraft, with 44 lie-flat seats in a 2X2 layout. Flights from Europe will make a refueling stop in Dubai. The carrier will gradually add larger A321 jets with 68 seats; ultimately it hopes to fly 32 aircraft to 60 destinations. (The company is based in Male and Dubai.)
Fares will start at around $3,000 roundtrip, commensurate with the prices charged by one of the few boutique premium lines to survive the industry’s boom and bust cycles: France’s La Compagnie.
Beond CEO Tero Taskila said he’s confident his carrier will defy the odds by offering something “unique and completely different” from other upscale lines that cater primarily to business travel. While other major airlines fly to the Maldives, their flights often require a connection; Beond is offering direct flights and a host of other services, such as airport transfers via limousine.
In a statement, the carrier emphasized that travel advisors will be important to its success, saying that revenues will be “driven by premium travel agency sales,” supplemented by direct-to-consumer promotion.