Airline tickets to & from the Maldives are becoming more costly, regardless of whether you’re paying cash or redeeming miles.
The Maldives’ new departure tax
Back in July 2021, Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih signed into law an amendment that will see a change to the taxes and fees that passengers pay when departing the country. At first there were some questions about the implementation of this, but we now have all the details, especially as this will fully be going into effect shortly.
Through December 31, 2021, passengers departing the Maldives pay $50 in airport taxes & fees, including:
- A $25 airport service charge when departing internationally, regardless of which airport travel is from
- An additional $25 airport development fee when departing internationally from Velana International Airport (MLE)
For travel as of January 1, 2022, a new tiered departure tax will replace the two current charges. As of 2022, passengers can expect to pay the following total amounts in airport fees:
- $60 for non-residents traveling internationally in economy class
- $120 for non-residents traveling internationally in business class
- $180 for non-residents traveling internationally in first class
Since these new fees replace the flat $50 amount you’d pay for any class of service, that means departure fees are increasing by:
- $10 in economy class, representing a 20% increase
- $70 in business class, representing a 140% increase
- $130 in first class, representing a 260% increase
The new departure tax will be waived for passengers with diplomatic immunity, and children under the age of two years. On top of that, residents of the Maldives don’t have to pay these increased fees.
Airlines are responsible for collecting the new departure tax, so they’re being added to the actual ticket costs — you won’t have to pay in person, or anything. This seems to already be reflected when booking tickets. For example, I just pulled up American AAdvantage award tickets for travel on SriLankan Airlines from Male to Colombo.
For travel on December 31, 2021, you’d pay $50 regardless of whether you’re traveling in economy or business class.
For travel on January 1, 2022, you’d pay $60 in economy or $120 in business class.
Is this departure tax greedy, or fair enough?
In general I’m opposed to tourist destinations putting up barriers to visiting, whether that come in the form of complicated visas, or expensive fees for entering or departing. That being said, for the Maldives I don’t think that’s totally unreasonable.
The country arguably has too many tourists already (at least pre-pandemic), and generally visitors to the Maldives aren’t as price sensitive as in other destinations. If the money from these taxes could actually help the people of the Maldives in a positive way, then I’m all for it.
Of course the government actually spending the money in the best interest of its people is probably a completely different story, and a big ask. But in principle I don’t think this is unreasonable…
For travel as of January 1, 2022, aviation taxes will be increasing for foreign travelers departing the Maldives. Instead of the current flat $50 in airport taxes & fees, travelers will instead pay $60 in economy, $120 in business class, or $180 in first class. That represents an increase of anywhere from $10 to $130, or anywhere from 20% to 260%.
While this should hardly put a dent in an overall budget for a Maldives trip, it’s at least worth being aware of.
What do you make of the Maldives’ new departure tax?
(Tip of the hat to Mainly Miles)