New ‘premium’ airline promises flights with all lie-flat seats to the Maldives

New planes and more routes on the way for ‘world’s first premium leisure airline’

Benjamin Parker
Friday 13 October 2023 12:55 BST

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Flying off on holiday to the Maldives could be even more luxurious thanks to a newly launched airline that will offer every passenger a lie-flat seat.

This week saw Beond – pronounced “beyond” – show off its aircraft at a series of events. When scheduled flights begin from November, every customer on board the narrow-body planes will be able to recline until they’re almost horizontal.

The operator has labelled itself “the world’s first premium leisure airline” and doesn’t use the term business class, stating its service is aimed at holidaying travellers – it’s based in the Maldives, which saw 1.6 million visitors in 2022, and where tourism is the single largest industry.

Tero Taskila, founder and chief executive of Beond, was previously boss of Estonian Air, and said while the airline is offering a “niche product” it is “targeting people who are seeking luxury experiences in travel.”

The plane, an Airbus A319, has been configured to fit just 44 passengers – far fewer than the maximum capacity of 156. Additional planes, with the lie-flat seating and capacity under the usual level, are expected to join the fleet in late 2023 and early 2024.

“Our aim is simple: to fly our customers to the most unique and unspoiled destinations where they can release their inner explorer on the most memorable vacation of their lives,” added Mr Taskila.

There will initially be three routes connecting with Male, the Maldives’ capital. Riyadh, in Saudi Arabia, launches on 9 November, flights to and from the German city of Munich start on 15 November, and a route between Zurich, Switzerland, and Male will see its inaugural flight on 17 November.

New routes from Dubai and Milan, northern Italy, will begin in late March 2024, Beond has announced – and the chief executive wants to grow to 60 destinations in the next five years.

The launch of Beond comes after a new airline that promised all-business class cabins has shelved its plans just weeks after the first flight.

BermudAir, which describes itself as being created for “business and premium leisure travellers”, had planned to configure its aircraft so that there would have been 30 seats across 15 rows, but has now said there will be an economy option for passengers, switching to a “dual-class” cabin model.

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