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Maldives redemptions get more expensive with new departure tax

Redeeming KrisFlyer miles for trips to the Maldives will now cost you more in taxes, especially flying Business Class, where the cash component is hiked by almost S$100.

It’s safe to say there’s really no such thing as a ‘cheap’ holiday to the Maldives, with its five-star resorts commanding high end prices for luxury escapes on the 1,200-island archipelago paradise, which attracts wealthy tourists from around the world.

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One way to mitigate the cost a little is to redeem your KrisFlyer miles for a trip on Singapore Airlines, especially now that the country is on Singapore’s list of Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTLs) allowing quarantine-free holidays, but unfortunately there’s some bad news in that department.

Maldives adds new departure tax

Earlier this year Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih ratified a new airport departure tax schedule for tourists departing from the country’s airports, with an increased Airport Service Charge (ASC) and Airport Development Fee (ADF) for tourists departing internationally from Velana International Airport (MLE) kicking in from 1st January 2022.

Currently those departing MLE on international flights pay US$50 in taxes, regardless of their travel class, comprised of:

  • Airport Service Charge (ASC): US$25
  • Airport Development Fee (ADF): US$25

For departures from MLE from 1st January 2022, the following total fees will apply, depending on your travel class.

Maldives (MLE) total departure taxes

Travel Class Until
31 Dec 2021
From
1 Jan 2022
Increase
Economy US$50 US$60 US$10
(+20%)
Business US$50 US$120 US$70
(+140%)
First US$50 US$180 US$130
(+260%)

These come about from an increased ASC and ADF of US$30 for Economy Class passengers, US$60 for Business Class passengers and US$90 for First Class passengers.

(Photo: Anantara)

The charges are collected by the airline, meaning any Singapore Airlines award ticket including travel out of MLE on or after 1st January 2022 just got a new cash component added (since KrisFlyer miles cannot be used to offset government and airport taxes and fees).

Here’s an example for a round-trip Business Class redemption from Singapore to Male, with a return date on or before the end of 2021, compared to one from 1st January 2022 onwards.

Until 31st December 2021

From 1st January 2022

For Economy Class, it’s nothing to write home about, but for those redeeming in Business Class (hey, it’s a Maldives trip after all!), the additional US$70 per passenger is equivalent to almost S$100 extra, quite a sting in the tail.

A Singapore Airlines Boeing 737-800 in Male. (Photo: Aviators Maldives)

Citizens are exempt

If you are a Maldivian citizen, lucky you! These increased departure taxes do not apply to you when booking cash tickets or redeeming on international flights from Male.

Singapore Airlines does not automatically apply this discount for you, so you will initially have to pay the full fare and taxes, then apply for a refund.

The Maldives will continue to waive departure taxes for children aged under two years.

It could be worse

If you think we’ve got it bad redeeming flights to the Maldives and back from Singapore with these newly increased charges, spare a thought for those booking awards on airlines that levy hefty fuel surcharges.

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Redeeming in Business Class on British Airways from London to the Maldives and back using Avios points, for example, will now set you back over £720 (~S$1,300) per passenger in taxes and fees alone!

That’s a triple whammy of the UK’s extortionate Air Passenger Duty, BA’s Fuel Surcharge and the new Maldives increased departure taxes.



 


 

Taxes by travel class

The Maldives is not the only country on the SIA network to differentiate its departure taxes based on your travel class.

The Maldives is the fourth country on the Singapore Airlines network applying higher departure taxes for those flying in premium cabins. (Photo: Air Images / Shutterstock)

Here are the others we know of.

  • 🇫🇷 France: The “Air Passenger Solidarity Tax” is 10 times higher for Business Class and First Class passengers (e.g. CDG-SIN S$69.20), than for those flying Economy and Premium Economy (e.g. CDG-SIN S$6.90).
  • 🇭🇰 Hong Kong: The “Hong Kong Airport Construction Fee” is set at a higher rate for Business Class and First Class passengers (e.g. HKG-SIN S$27.80), than for Economy and Premium Economy (e.g. HKG-SIN S$15.70).
  • 🇬🇧 United Kingdom: A higher rate of “Air Passenger Duty” applies in any cabin other than Economy (i.e. Premium Economy and up).

Travel to the Maldives (VTL)

Heading to the Maldives on a VTL trip from Singapore is a relatively straightforward process. Travellers can take any flight to the country, since there are no designated VTL services in the Singapore – Male direction.

Here are the basic requirements for a quarantine-free trip:

  • Complete a “Traveller Health Declaration” within 48 hours of departure through the IMUGA site.
  • Have a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken at most 96 hours before departure from the first embarkation point. Passengers who have transited for more than 24 hours must repeat the test (no test for passengers under 1 year of age, by date of birth on departure).
  • Have a COVID-19 vaccination certificate showing that you were fully vaccinated with AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria or SK Bioscience Co Ltd. from Korea), Covishield, Janssen, Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, Sinopharm or Sputnik V at least 14 days before arrival, or have a positive COVID-19 PCR test taken at most 60 days before arrival and a recovery certificate.
  • Unvaccinated children aged under 18 can travel with their fully vaccinated parents.
  • Tourists must have a hotel reservation confirmation for the entire stay in a registered tourist facility. More details can be found here.

Maldives – Singapore
Designated VTL Flights

Here are the designated VTL flights from Male to Singapore on your return for a quarantine-free arrival (click to expand):

16th December 2021 - 26th March 2022

  Days
M T W T F S S
 bgcolor= SQ437
737-800
MLE
23:25
SIN

07:15*

* Next day

27th March 2022 - 29th October 2022

  Days
M T W T F S S
 bgcolor= SQ437
737-800
MLE
23:25
SIN

07:05*

* Next day

Male Singapore
Non-VTL

  • All SQ flights operating on other days (not highlighted above) or with different flight numbers (e.g. SQ431) are not designated VTL flights.

Testing costs

Taxes on your flight ticket or redemption booking are one thing, but there’s also the cost of the testing regime to account for on a Maldives trip.

Aside from the pre-departure PCR test requirement on the way to the Maldives, those travelling or returning to Singapore are required to have an ART or PCR test conducted within two days of their flight departure date (e.g. departing 13th January, test must be conducted on 11th January or later).

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You can obtain both ART and PCR tests through your resort / hotel in the Maldives. In the unlikely event your hotel can’t assist with this, you will have to travel to Male for pre-departure testing. A list of testing labs in the greater Male region is available here.

Cost for a certified ART test is around S$50, while PCR tests are around S$65.

🇲🇻 VTL
Singapore Maldives
Estimated Testing Costs 

Test Cost
SG pre-departure (PCR)* From S$107
Maldives pre-departure (ART)* ~S$50
SG arrival (PCR) S$125
Day 2 (ART) ~S$7
Day 3 (QTC / CTC ART) S$15
Day 4 (ART) ~S$7
Day 5 (ART) ~S$7
Day 6 (ART) ~S$7
Day 7 (QTC / CTC ART) S$15
Total From S$340

* Prices vary between providers and locations.

As you can see you’re looking at around S$340+ per person in testing costs for a round-trip from Singapore to the Maldives and back under the current testing regime.



 


 

Summary

Departure taxes from Male to Singapore and other international destinations will increase from US$50, by at least US$10 and up to US$120 per person depending on travel class starting this week (1st January 2022), though citizens are exempt from the increase.

Taxes on tourists are generally a bad thing, so we’re surprised to see the Maldives adding these costs to air tickets and award redemptions at a time when the recovery from COVID-19 is still ongoing.

For those redeeming KrisFlyer miles in Business Class it’s effectively a S$100 add-on to your trip cost for a return award per person, though the generally high cost of a holiday to the Maldives arguably means this may be a less significant impact than it would be for other destinations.

Will the new Maldives increased departure tax affect your trip decision? Let us know in the comments section below.

(Cover Photo: Ibrahim Mohamed)

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