Did you know Maldives Airways was jointly owned by government and Palestine Liberation Organization
Maldives Airways was an airline founded in the Maldives in 1984 only to cease operations two years later following the bankruptcy.
The airline was jointly owned by the government of the Maldives and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). Along with Maldives Airways, the PLO also owned Guinea-Bissau airline, Transportes Aereos da Guine-Bissau.
Founded in 1964, the Palestinian Liberation Organization is an organization that represents the Palestinian people and is recognized by the United Nations since 1974. PLO is said to have made investments internationally in airlines, plantations, and high-tech companies worth billions of dollars.
Then chairman of the PLO at the time, Mr.Yasser Arafat visited the Maldives two years before the establishment of the airline and It is said that Mr.Yasser Arafat wanted to aid the growth of the tiny Muslim nation.
Maldives Airways was headed by Faiz Zaidan who would later be in charge of the Civil Aviation Authority of Palestine.
The maiden flight of Maldives airways was flown from the capital Male’ to Gan, Addu city with local officials and travel agents.
Although unclear, the airline is said to had a fleet of 3 Fokker F-27 and 3 Douglas DC-8 aircraft and had planned to operate to Colombo, Madras, Trivandrum, and Dubai from the Maldives.
This was an impressive feat for a local airline at the time as then national airline Air Maldives only had one Short Skyvan which only had a passenger capacity of fewer than 20 passengers while the DC-8 can accommodate up to 200 passengers depending on the configuration.
There are records of two DC-8’s which were registered as 8Q-CA003 (Later 8Q-PNB) and 8Q-CA004 (Later: 8Q-PNC). The two aircraft were built in the early 1960s and flown in the US for Delta Airlines before Maldives Airways acquired the aircraft.
During its release in 1950-1960s, a brand new Douglas DC8 costs USD 5.46 million (Adjusted to inflation: $51,193,050) while a Fokker F-27 costs USD 338,000 (Adjusted to inflation: $3,123,330)
There are not many publications available with details surrounding the short-lived airline. Although not confirmed it is said to have been established to carry out secret missions for the PLO including the carriage of weapons and drugs.
Maldives Airways declared bankruptcy in 1987 and two of the DC-8’s were sold to Kallita Airlines. Then national airline Air Maldives later went to acquire narrow-body jet aircraft and fly internationally before bankruptcy in 2000.