Velana International Airport (VIA) has become a victim of Maldives Airports Company Limited's (MACL) success in rapidly attracting airlines back, during the current Covid recovery period. Recently the sight that sometimes meets you at VIA, the gateway to the Maldives, was long queues of passengers.
The other side is filled with construction work. VIA has aged over the decades it has been in service and is now accommodating capacities it is not built for. However, recently MACL has worked successfully to rectify the queuing issues it recently faced and the challenge of ensuring the airport continues to serve its passengers seamlessly continues. MACL is simultaneously carrying out one of the biggest Airport Infrastructure Development Projects, not only in the Maldives but possibly the whole Airport World right now. It is a tough challenge however one in which MACL CEO, Mr. Gordon Andrew Stewart and his management team are motivated and working hard to succeed in.
While a number of these major projects are approaching completion next year. To support these new projects going live MACL have now started to recruit new employees and invest in existing staff to ensure a smooth service start up for their customers.
In an interview given to “Mihaaru” news, Gordon said his priority as CEO is to develop their employees and to invest in the training and education of his staff. He believes the airport experience will vastly improve if this endeavor is successful. Gordon credits a successful company to well trained and educated employees
“If you want to create a better business you must create better staff. It is a must. The way that we modernize our business and create a better customer experience [to our] passengers, is to invest in our staff,” Gordon said.
Gordon has successfully invested in local employee development in his previous role at an International Airport in the Middle East. He has first-hand experience of how this brings sustainable long-term success to an Airport.
“I will not always be in Maldives and I want to create a new airport that all Maldivians can be proud of. However, by far my greater pride will be all the well trained and highly skilled staff at the airport that my management team and I will have helped create. This will make me truly proud.”
One of the most vital aspects of the airport development project is the new terminal. With the new terminal, service at the airport will improve, positively affecting the overall customer experience. The new terminal will be significantly larger than the existing, at 78,000 square meters in the southern area of the Airport. To properly man this exciting new facility VIA will have to recruit approximately 1000 more employees once the new terminal starts being utilized. MACL has already started the task of recruiting and training employees.
As a key step to Developing Local Talent, Gordon said they have already appointed a Leadership and Organisation Development, General Manager and MACL have actively started the recruiting process while carrying out employee training in parallel.
One of the areas the company will be prioritizing is the recruitment and training of IT employees. Gordon said they will be installing 28 new Specialized Airport IT systems by the time the new terminal is completed and that they were currently on the lookout for employees that could be trained in these new leading-edge Airport IT systems. Due to the uniqueness of these systems to the Maldives, MACL will face obstacles in filling all their spots, with Airport IT experienced Maldivians. To tackle this challenge a blend of training and developing local talent, supported by International Airport IT experts is the tried and tested formula applied around the world, in new Airport Developments.
“While we get thousands of applications for lower-level jobs we do not get anywhere as many applications for more specialized Airport jobs” Gordon added.
To solve this problem, MACL has been working to launch a scholarship program for their employees. These includes the CEO’s special scholarship, MACL funded scholarship, study loan for employees and short-term trainings for employees. There are plans for even more investment in the MACL workforce. All of these initiatives together will help to develop new talent within the company. Also, it provides a solution for the shortage of the new skills required at the Airport.
While a new skills shortfall cannot be solved immediately, the company is confident the steps they are taking now will bring about significant improvement in the future. By sowing the seeds of education and training now, we reap the harvest of better operational and customer experience later.