New All Business Class Airline BeOnd Plans To Serve 60-80 Destinations From A Hub… In The Maldives?

New all business class airline BeOnd plans to launch with a hub in Male, capital of the Maldives. If there’s a luxury resort destination attracting a clientele that might spring for such a service, the Maldives is on the short list. But the business model of flying 68 premium seats on board A321neos to 60 – 80 destinations seems.. insane?

They plan to launch with the neo but ultimately fly A321XLRs to reach Europe and Australia. And they claim they’re going to be subsidized by the government of the Maldives, to which I have to wonder.. why?

Are they going to attract so many more customers who will not fly Qatar Airways or Emirates because of the connection, albeit with less frequent and therefore also less convenient service and in inferior inflight product to Qatar?

Initially they plan service to 8 destinations in Asia, including India and the Mideast, using 2 planes. Eventually they want to fly to Australia and Europe.

One criticism of the airline has been ‘how can they start an airline in 2023 when they haven’t ordered any planes? That’s plausibly a problem! However I would also point out,

  1. There were two Airbus orders in 2022 – in July and September – that were exclusively for Airbus A321neo aircraft placed by an undisclosed party. The orders were for 10 and 4 planes. Not all orders are disclosed!

  2. BeOnd will be using planes from Arabesque, so the order wouldn’t be under its own name in any case. I don’t see an Arabesque order, but they could be leasing!

Arabesque involves the former Middle East director for Boeing (who served as head of strategy for Aeroflot), and BeOnd also includes the former Chief Commercial Officer of airBaltic (with experience at Gulf Air and Qatar Airways) and the former director of airline restructuring at Lufthansa.

Those aren’t people you assume as insane, or a teenager doing mockup websites to promote at Airliners.net. And BeOnd continues posting to social media.

Key service elements the airline is promoting include home check-in and airport transfer, but those makes no sense at their hub in Male. Most passengers will be going to resorts that exist on their own islands in the Maldives, not to the capital city. And that means connecting on seaplanes or Maldivian flights mostly, which are usually organized by the resorts. That leaves ground service only at outstations, which likely won’t have daily service. Even Emirates only does this in Dubai (and Sharjah).

Moveover there’s currently no room on the ramp for a new airline serving 60 – 80 destinations from Male. You can’t even have multiple planes on the runway at once there. And there’s not enough gate space, either.

Launching in summer makes no sense, either, that’s rainy season. It would be like launching a transatlantic airline in winter. You normally want to give yourself the head start of selling tickets during the busy travel season, rather than flying planes mostly empty and selling seats at a discount.

A key problem that every startup carrier faces is what to do in the off season. Low cost transatlantic airlines fare fine in the summer months, but have nowhere to send their planes for the winter and wind up operating empty aircraft at substantial losses. If there’s a market for an airline like this, and they can overcome technical hurdles, they need somewhere to send their planes perhaps April through September? They need a counter-seasonable resort destination for a second hub, where the local government will subsidize air travel for the wealthy.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. If this is run by the Maldivian government what could happen is they could introduce Visa fees that are waived when flying the flag carrier. Additionally they could introduce expedited security and immigration for flag carrier passengers.

  2. Uh, I would say this is called vertical integration. It’s not like the Maldives is a super open place to begin with, but people still come in droves. Seems like a pretty straightforward play for the govt to snag a huge piece of the pie and name the price of entry (they could basically control tourist volumes and maximize revenues by modulating prices on this airline and slapping fees on other carriers)..Gary sure is quick to dismiss interesting business models, that seems to be a pattern around here, but I for one am curious.

  3. “Arabesque involves the former Middle East director for Boeing (who served as head of strategy for Aeroflot), and BeOnd also includes the former Chief Commercial Officer of airBaltic (with experience at Gulf Air and Qatar Airways) and the former director of airline restructuring at Lufthansa.”

    Uhhhh….yea…..NO.

  4. I hope they look at their maps one more time before flying. That dot is definitely not Munich. Not even close.

  5. Who knew !!! Nice catch, Allen ! As for “interesting business models”, I’m agreed with CW’s points in how this could work, but I also see Gary’s points in how it may not. It would seem that you’re both right, for sure it will be interesting how this plays out.

  6. Not quite sure why this is such a stretch. They are looking to operate narrow body aircraft with a premium focus via a market that is typically associated with that. As well they are well positioned geographically to promote a limited hub and spoke system. Finally, with correct positioning they can easily offer stopover benefits to those connecting in a place that many would jump at the opportunity. (And no, not every hotel requires local air transport to the properties…there are plenty that you can take a boat transfer).

    As mentioned in comments above the country is also perfectly in their rights to give preferential treatment to a national endeavor. I imagine that there is a lot of eye raising at how much EK and QR make on these connections to Male and wanting to not only shake that up a bit but utilize the same positioning and location to take advantage of geography. Really, who would argue the advantage of a stopover few nights in The Maldives over the absurdity that is Dubai now?

    I recall when Royal Brunei built a little niche from Europe to Asia and was quite popular. And they were not even all that well positioned! EK and QR sort of killed that but BI showed prior that it is viable from a niche perspective. An airline coming around and handing it back to EK on a smaller scale, with better connectivity, seems awesome and well played.

  7. The Maldives may think it can grow the market for tourists by having more direct flight routes to MLE (and maybe it can), since having to take extra connecting flights to get to MLE and then a local puddle jumper flight or boat may act as a restraint on demand from foreign tourists. But why do I bet that such flights would be used often as a sort of gift for the government officials to give to themselves and their favorites!

    The Maldives is not a cheap destination for foreign tourists stuck in the resort life trap, so growing point to point demand has its challenges when also trying to meet the costs of the supply of seats to be provided by such flights.

  8. I predict that in the longer term, there will be a growth in the proportion of the flying public seeking seasonal escapes to cooler temperature destinations and better air quality. With oceans not getting any cleaner anytime soon, the safer bet from that perspective too may to be an inlander avoiding beaches/coastal areas.

  9. The Maldives are currently infested with Russians. No place else to go.
    This is Russian funded.
    I’ll pass.

  10. To – Mets Fan in NC says:
    February 25, 2023 at 4:43 pm
    An airline called Bend O(ver) offering business class sounds sketchy

    It’s Russian. Of course it’s sketchy

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