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Trans Maldivian Airways: Exploring the Maldives’ Premier Seaplane Operator

Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA) is a private airline company that has been operating in the Maldives since 1989. With its headquarters stationed on the grounds of Velana International Airport in Malé, TMA plays a crucial role in providing seaplane transfer services to a large number of tourist resorts in the Maldives. Notably, in 2013, TMA held the title of operating the world’s largest seaplane fleet for air transfer services, earning its reputation as the oldest and leading air transfer operator in the country.

Initially, the company started under the name Hummingbird Island Helicopters, offering helicopter fleet services. However, as the Maldives struggled with infrastructure problems, TMA adapted and transitioned to seaplane services, successfully connecting Male with multiple island holiday destinations.  Offering resort transfers, photo flights, private charters, and unforgettable excursions, Trans Maldivian Airways plays an essential role in connecting travelers to their desired paradise in the Maldives.

History of Trans Maldivian Airways


Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA) began its journey in 1989 as a company operating a helicopter fleet under the name Hummingbird Island Helicopters. The company was one of the early pioneers of commercial aviation in the Maldives, overcoming various infrastructure challenges in the early stages of the nation’s tourism industry.

Expansion and Growth

In 1993, the Maldivian Air Taxi was established as the sole competitor to TMA in the seaplane transfer industry. Both companies experienced significant growth in the following years, with Trans Maldivian Airways eventually becoming the world’s largest seaplane operator. In February 2013, the American equity fund Blackstone Group announced their buyout of the majority stake of both TMA and Maldivian Air Taxi, effectively forming a new combined entity.

Over the years, TMA managed to transfer over 500,000 passengers annually, making it the leading provider of air transportation for the hundreds of islands in the Maldives.

Significant Milestones

Some of the key milestones achieved by Trans Maldivian Airways include:

  • 1989: Founding of the company as Hummingbird Island Helicopters
  • 1993: Establishment of Maldivian Air Taxi as the sole competitor to TMA
  • Early 2000s: TMA garners the title of the world’s largest seaplane operator
  • 2013: Blackstone Group’s buyout of TMA and Maldivian Air Taxi, forming a combined entity

Trans Maldivian Airways continues to offer reliable seaplane services, connecting remote islands in the Maldives to international travelers and contributing to the growth of the Maldivian tourism industry.

Fleet Information

Aircraft Types

Trans Maldivian Airways operates a fleet of 61 aircraft with an average age of 41.18 years. The airline’s fleet consists predominantly of the De Havilland Canada DHC-6-300 Twin Otter aircraft. These seaplanes are ideal for transporting passengers between Velana International Airport in Malé and the various island destinations in the Maldives. The De Havilland Twin Otter is known for its reliability and ability to land on water, making it an excellent choice for Trans Maldivian Airways’ unique operations.

Maintenance and Safety

Trans Maldivian Airways is committed to maintaining the highest standards of safety and reliability in its fleet. A robust maintenance program is in place to ensure the continued airworthiness of the aircraft. The airline adheres to strict maintenance guidelines and procedures set forth by aviation authorities, such as regular inspections and maintenance checks on all aircraft. Additionally, Trans Maldivian Airways employs highly skilled and well-trained maintenance personnel who work diligently to keep the fleet in optimal condition.

Safety is a top priority for the airline, and it strives to ensure that all flights are operated with the utmost care and attention to detail. The De Havilland Canada DHC-6-300 Twin Otter aircraft are equipped with modern safety features and navigational equipment, allowing pilots to navigate the unique challenges of flying in the Maldives with confidence. Furthermore, Trans Maldivian Airways’ pilots undergo rigorous training and are well-versed with the operational standards required to maintain a safe and efficient flight operation in the Maldivian archipelago.

Services and Operations

Trans Maldivian Airways is a private airline headquartered in Malé, Maldives, operating primarily seaplane transfers to various tourist resorts. The airline is committed to providing excellent services to its passengers through scheduled flights, charter services, and a unique passenger experience.

Scheduled Flights

Trans Maldivian Airways operates scheduled seaplane flights between Velana International Airport and numerous island holiday destinations in the Maldives. With the world’s largest seaplane fleet at their disposal, TMA ensures a seamless and efficient travel experience for tourists visiting the Maldives.

Charter Services

In addition to scheduled flights, TMA also offers charter services for travelers seeking a more customized and personalized travel experience. The standard photo flight package, for example, offers a 10-minute scenic flyover of the Maldives, starting and ending at the airport. This popular service is reasonably priced and provides a unique perspective of the Maldivian islands.

Business and Partnerships

Passenger Experience

Trans Maldivian Airways prides itself on offering a comfortable and enjoyable passenger experience. From the moment travelers arrive at Velana International Airport, the TMA team ensures a seamless and stress-free transfer, allowing guests to fully relax and enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the Maldives. As they soar above the picturesque islands, passengers are treated to stunning aerial views, making their journey to their island destination a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Trans Maldivian Airways

Corporate Affairs

Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA) was initially established in 1988 as a helicopter operator under the name Hummingbird in the Maldives. In 1998, the company underwent a rebranding process and became Trans Maldivian Airways, switching its fleet to Twin Otter aircraft only. TMA holds the title of the largest seaplane operator in the world.

In 2013, American equity fund Blackstone Group acquired the majority stake of both Trans Maldivian Airways and its major competitor Maldivian Air Taxi. This business move resulted in a combined fleet of 44 seaplanes, making it one of the largest seaplane operations globally. Later, in 2017, a consortium led by Bain Capital Private Equity formed to acquire TMA from its previous private equity firm ownership. The consortium included Shenzhen Tempus Global Business Service Holding Limited, a Chinese enterprise.

After the acquisition, TMA underwent restructuring under its new owners—Carlyle, King Street Capital Management, and Davidson Kempner Capital Management LP. The restructuring aimed to position TMA for strategic business growth and further expansion, ensuring the company a strong foundation for the years to come.

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