A Look into the World’s Most Unique Airline Operations at Trans Maldivian Airways

    Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA) – the world’s largest seaplane operator, with a fleet of almost 60 twin otter aircraft, offers travel to the remotest and unspoiled archipelagos of the Maldives. Catering to more than 80 resorts in the Maldives, the operations at TMA are extremely unique.

    Having one of the most distinctive airline operations in the world, TMA operates based on customer demand unlike traditional airlines that operate to a fixed schedule. Traditional airlines have a set number of aircrafts and predetermined routes fixed for their daily operations. On the contrary, TMA schedules and operates its fleet on a day-to-day basis as per the requirements of the resorts. 

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    Mohamed Shamman, the Reservations and Scheduling Manager of TMA stated that the scheduling team starts preparing the schedule only 2 days in advance once the resorts share the passengers’ details with them, which is typically ~72 hours ahead of the travel date. . A schedule is generated for the upcoming day with the objective of maximum seat utilization across the fleet while honoring the Service Level Agreements with each resort. The final schedule is sent to the resorts before the end of the day prior to handing it over to operations team. The operations team of TMA executes what the reservations and scheduling team has planned a day prior

    Once the Operations team is notified of the number of aircraft assigned and available for the next day together with the total number of passengers, they take control of the on-day scheduling and operations. TMA accepts any last-minute bookings and additional changes offering a great deal of flexibility to its resort partners. The schedule is shuffled on the day to cater to the additional changes requested by the resorts. With the trends on late bookings picking up all across the world, TMA’s operational flexibility provides a great deal of support the resorts who can then assure their guests a guaranteed transfer. 

    “Never say no to any customers” – a motto at TMA since the beginning of its journey plays a very important role in providing their passengers with a memorable experience. Abdulla Faisal, Operations Manager of TMA said that none of the guests are left behind as TMA chops and changes its schedule to accommodate last minute requests. All last-minute additions and changes are accepted, and this is what makes TMA stand out from its competitors. The on-demand flexibility provided to the resorts shows the excellent service ecosystem TMA offers to its partners and customers. 

    What started from being manual work that included handwritten boarding passes has now evolved into a fully automated system at TMA. The in-house scheduling software automates the scheduling work as compared to the previous manual data punching into Excel sheets. Back in the day, since the international flights arriving in the Maldives were lower in number compared to today, afternoons were not busy for the reservations, scheduling, and operations team. Today, TMA operates back-to-back flights carrying more than 3000 passengers on an average on any day with afternoons and evenings being equally busy!

    The input to TMA’s system is essentially the international arrivals – spread across the day and on different international airlines landing at the Velana International Airport. The biggest challenges faced in day-to-day operations include the international flight delays which result in re-scheduling.. Delays in the international flights are are adjusted in the schedule in a manner that allows TMA to bring the departing passengers in time to catch their international flights, as well as transport incoming passengers.

    Regardless of the obstacles, TMA strives to offer the best services to its partners and passengers through its exciting and dynamic operations. With a unique way of dropping off customers to their doorsteps, TMA remains the preferred mode of transfer for an exceptional journey with the most scenic views of Maldives from the top! 

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