This trip with flight number MAT 673 Malé (MLE)-Medhufushi (MED) was made on 6/1/2013, courtesy of the airline Maldivian Air Taxi. The plane was a De Havilland DHC6-300 Twin Otter (DHC6) hydroplane.
This is the only airline that offers a scheduled flight on this route.
A Little Bit About the Maldives in General
The Republic of Maldives is an island nation spanning 20 atolls, comprised of 1192 coral islands. Many of the islands are inhabited, with villages and towns on them. The capital of the Maldives, which is also the most populous city in the country, is Malé. Here you can find one of the Maldives' two international airports, where most international flights land. This is also one of only two islands in Maldives that has roads for motor vehicles.
There are also islands with no permanent settlements, most of them completely deserted because of their small size. The larger ones, however, frequently have hotels. A peculiarity of vacationing in the Maldives is that an island might have a hotel on it and nothing else. No houses and no other hotels. Essentially, the whole island is a hotel.
Public transportation does not exist in the Maldives. To get to islands that are nearby, you can hire a motorboat, while the more isolated ones can be reached only by plane. There are a total of about 5 or 6 airports in the entire country, served by a few small local airlines. Thus the majority of flights within the thousand islands of the Maldives take place aboard hydroplanes. Two of the largest operators of hydroplanes are Transmaldivian (TMA) and Maldivian Air Taxi.
The Maldivian Air Taxi company was founded in 1993. It's based out of Malé International Airport (MLE). It's the largest operator of De Havilland DHC6-300 Twin Otter (DHC6) hydroplanes. The airline has a huge network of flights, covering essentially the entirety of the Maldives.
Check-In for the Flight
After landing at the international terminal in Malé airport, you have to go down a covered walkway a few hundred yards long to get to the domestic flights terminal. Maldivian Air Taxi had its own permanent registration stands.
Check-in was quick, the baggage was immediately loaded onto a truck.
Shortly, I received a boarding pass.
Nearby, just across the hall, were the stands of Transmaldivian, the biggest competitor of Maldivian Air Taxi.
Afterwards we were shown to a shuttle, which took us to a different terminal where our flight was actually leaving from.
This terminal serves only Maldivian Air Taxi flights. Trans Maldivian Air is housed in the building next door. The entire terminal looks like a big restaurant or diner, with tables everywhere.
As in any self-respecting airport, there was a shop here.
Together with the boarding passes we got coupons for free ice cream and drinks.
You could step outside to admire the ocean and hydroplanes.
Boarding was announced. Everyone was invited to proceed to a small covered waiting area. The purpose of the waiting area is to prevent a crowd forming a jam on the dock.
Next, an airline employee escorted everybody to the plane itself.
The De Havilland DHC6-300 Twin Otter (DHC6), tail number 8Q-MBA, was all ready to take off.
The interior of the plane was terribly hot. The air conditioning kicks in only after takeoff.
The cabin was arranged 2-1. The ceiling was so low that I couldn't get a photo of the entire cabin.
The closed door of the plane.
There was neither no door between the cabin and the cockpit. Passengers could watch the pilots taking care of business, if that was their thing.
There were two seat pockets per seat. Inside them were the safety instructions and the flight magazine.
After a little bit of maneuvering on the water, we took off.
There were some lovely views out the window (or rather, the porthole). Unfortunately my camera isn't the greatest, and clouds kept getting in the way of my shots, but I still managed to take a few picture. Below is a captioned list.
1. New construction on an artificial island in the capital.
2. Behind the cloud is the airport-island Hulhule.
3. A hotel-island.
4. Sand shelves.
5. Coral atolls (as seen through a somewhat fogged up porthole).
6. Another atoll (the weather was really not cooperating in this photo).
7. An inhabited island.
8. The same inhabited island.
9. A forested uninhabited island.
10. A different inhabited island.
11. A second photo of the inhabited island.
12. A deserted island. This one featured a radio tower.
13. Some islets.
14. Inhabited island #3, and its deserted neighbor.
15. Our destination: a hotel-island. There's an inhabited island nearby, but it's not visible in the photo.
16. The same island, from a much lower altitude.
17. A sand shelf separates the atoll from the deep sea.
18. The same shelf, but from a different angle.
19., 20. and 21. The luxury "suites". Actually, elevated bungalows right on the ocean, with personal access to the ocean.
22. The bottom of the wing and a bit of the island.
Here the numbered list ends, as our trip came to an end.
We landed. The landing was about as soft and smooth as it's possible to be when landing on water.
And here it is, right under the wings of the plane: the Indian Ocean. The Laccadive Sea, to be precise.
The was perfectly smooth and serene.
Through the window on the other side of the plane you could see the pier at which we were going to dock.
A last look through the window.
All the luggage was at the back of the cabin, strapped down with an orange belt.
Everyone exiting the plane.
Our "gate" and the walkway to the "terminal".
The tail of the plane.
P.S. The pilots were barefoot throughout the entire flight
P. P. S. Thanks for reading. Please comment and rate. Also, visit my blog. I've recently started it up, but soon there will be lots of interesting reviews of aircraft and other things.
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