Prices proposed by seaplane companies to conduct scheduled trips to atolls are too high: Transport Ministry

Ministry of Transport and Communications has said that the prices proposed by the two sea plane operators; Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA) and Maldivian Air Taxi (MAT) to conduct scheduled flights to the atolls are too high and that the Ministry has decided to negotiate with the two companies regarding the matter.

Saamee Ageel, Director General of Regional Airports at the Transport Ministry told Sun today that the prices quoted in the joint proposal submitted by the two companies to carry out the government’s initiative to expand seaplane services to the islands was unreasonably high.

He said that the proposal asks the government to exempt all aviation surcharges and to charge $ 95 (MVR 1,464.9) per trip per person.

Saamee said that the companies also asks the government to compensate them if the planes are to travel with less than 12 passengers for any one trip.

“If that is the case, the government would have to pay about MVR 800,000 per month. These are unreasonably high prices for the government. Government is trying to do this in a sustainable way,” Saamee Ageel said.

He said that the Ministry wants to lower the prices by negotiating with the companies.

The US investment company Blackstone Group holds majority shares of both MAT and TMA.

On September 18th last year, the government signed an agreement with MAT to provide seaplane services to the islands. Samee Ageel said that the agreement has now been terminated.

The government's purpose for the initiative is to improve the country's transportation network through sea plane services. MAT and TMA currently make scheduled flights to tourist resorts alone.