Russian leisure airline Azur Air is set to begin flight operations to the Maldives, in time for the festive holiday season. From November, Azur Air will fly three times a week between Vnukovo International Airport and Velana International Airport, with flights operating on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. With an all-Boeing fleet of 29 aircraft, including 11 Boeing 767-300ER jets and four Boeing 777-300ER planes, Azur Air operates seasonal charters to several countries, including China, India, Mexico, Spain, Thailand, Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates. The airline also flies to several domestic destinations in Russia. Before the coronavirus pandemic forced countries around the world to close their borders, Azur Air operated charter flights to the Maldives. With Azur Air now offering scheduled services to the Maldives for the winter holiday season, Russian travellers will have eve more options to enjoy a tropical getaway in the Maldives. Russian flag carrier Aeroflot currently flies four times a week to the Maldives, while Russia’s Nordwind Airlines is set to begin flight operations to the Maldives from Monday with two weekly service. Expanding air connectivity between Moscow and Male will be a major boost to the Maldives’ efforts to revive the country’s tourism-dependent economy after reopening its borders on July 15. Tourism promotion authorities in Maldives have also launched an advertising campaign on a leading TV channel in Russia. Russian tourists accounted for over 74,000 or close to five per cent of Maldives’ foreign visitors last year, the sixth biggest market after China, India, Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom. Before the current coronavirus pandemic, Aeroflot was operating daily flights between Moscow Sheremetyevo and Velana International Airport in Male. With the border reopening, 30-day free on-arrival visa is issued to all tourists with a confirmed booking for a stay at any registered tourist facility in the country. There is no mandatory quarantine or testing on arrival, but tourists have to complete an online health declaration form and provide a negative PCR test result taken at least 96 hours prior to their departure. Visitors with symptoms of the Covid-19 respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus or those travelling with someone who has similar symptoms are also tested at their own expense.