Villa Air, which operates under the name FlyMe, is about to become the first operator of an ATR 600-series aircraft in the island-archipelago nation of The Maldives.
The airline is about to start operating a new ATR 72-600 which was delivered to U.S.-based lessor GECAS (GE Capital Aviation Services Limited), the commercial aircraft leasing and financing subsidiary of General Electric, and GECAS is leasing the aircraft to Villa Air FlyMe.
After arriving in the Indian Ocean island nation, the aircraft is due to perform its inaugural flight between The Maldives’ capital Malé, the main hub of Villa Air, and Maamigili in early February.
Villa Air’s first ATR 72-600 will allow the airline to expand its fleet and boost service to existing destinations within The Maldives, including routes linking Malé’s Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (IATA code MLE) to airports serving Maamigili, Gan and Dharavandhoo. Villa Air already operates a fleet of two ATR 42-500 turboprop regional airliners on domestic routes in the islands.
The carrier’s first ATR 72-600 is equipped with a new full-glass cockpit and is configured in a single-class, 66-seat layout.
Underlining “the importance of offering new standard of comfort to passengers as well as the outstanding inter-island capabilities of the new ATR 72-600,” Qasim Ibrahim, chairman of the Villa Group, adds, “We are delighted to upgrade our fleet with the most modern 70-seat regional aircraft, renowned for its environment friendliness. We want to associate our growth to the preservation of the environment in the Maldives.”
“We are now introducing the ATR 72-600 aircraft in our lease portfolio and we are pleased by the strong attractiveness of this aircraft among regional airlines all over the world,” says Todd Freeman, SVP and manager, regional aircraft, of GECAS.
“With its low operating costs and its modern passenger comfort standards, the ATR 72-600 is becoming increasingly popular,” adds Freeman. “Our ATR 72-600 commitments will allow us to offer even more comprehensive product offerings to our customers and help them to succeed in the years to come.”
Malé-based Villa Air was incorporated in 1997 by Ibrahim with a vision to build an airport and to create an airline, later baptized FlyMe, owned by Villa Group.
Villa Air/FlyMe operated its maiden commercial flight on October 1, 2011 between Villa Airport Maamigili (VAM) and Ibrahim Nasir International Airport, creating a convenient air service between Malé International Airport and the island of Maamigili in Alif Dhaal Atoll.
Today Villa Group is the owner of the only ICAO-certified domestic/private airport in The Maldives.