Half of the construction work for Haa Dhaal atoll Hanimaadhoo Airport has reached completion, with an anticipated launch of the new runway in September.
Dedicated workers and a fleet of vehicles are seen transforming the 30 year old airport as part of the government's initiative to enhance infrastructure.
The project includes the establishement of a 2.7-kilometer runway, a terminal with the capacity 1.3 million passengers, and provisions for jet fuel storage.
The Hanimaadhoo Airport expansion stands as one of the government's largest development projects in northern Maldives. According to Regional Airports Company Limited (RACL), some aspects of the project are progressing faster than the projected timeline.
The project was awarded to India's JMC in September, 2022. Within a span of 11 months, the project has reached the halfway mark of completion. Approximately 60 percent of the runway work has been completed.
JMC's Project Director Inder Singh said that a 2.7-km runway will be constructed at Hanimaadhoo airport, of which 1.2 km will be completed in the next 15 days.
- The Exim Bank of India is financing USD 136 million (MVR 2 billion) in the venture
- The airport will serve an estimated 1.3 million passengers annually
- A320 and Boeing 737 aircraft will be accommodated
During the site visit for the airport project, which took place on Saturday, August 19, project director of JMC, Inder Singh highlighted that the initial focus is on completing the 1.4 km area of the intersection between the new and existing runways. Once complete, the section of the new runway will be operational and the existing runway will be closed off.
COO of Regional Airports Company Limited (RACL), Ahmed Ibrahim, said that while the initial plan included the closure of the airport during the runway construction, discussions with nearby resorts led to an alternative solution that ensured uninterrupted operations.
Inder Singh said that the runway construction is carried out in three phases, with the northern and southern sections being completed first. The middle section will be attended to once a portion of the new runway is operational.
He highlighted that the initial 1.2-kilometer stretch was covered by a forested area with large trees, all of which were cleared to facilitate construction. The work has progressed up to the DBM layer, with two more layers of asphalt to be laid after. The project's tentative completion date is set for September 10.
In addition, Inder Singh said that a 600-meter area of the current runway will be repurposed for the new runway, with plans for its completion by November of this year. Following its completion, work will commence on the greenfield area of the runway.
The airport maintains operational hours from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily. Previously, the airport accommodated five daily flights, but the current schedule has been reduced to three flights daily. The remaining flights have been rerouted to Kulhudhuffushi.
"We are working 12 hours each day. This is a challenge. However, changing the project's deadline is unnecessary," Ibrahim said.
The 1.4-kilometer section of the new runway, scheduled for inauguration next month, will feature night landings, ensuring minimal disruption of the airport's operations.
In addition to the runway, the new apron area will have the capacity to accommodate three large aircraft and five general aircraft simultaneously.
- Runway: 61 percent completed
- Air traffic control building: 42 percent completed
- Essential Services (RO and Power Plant): 63 percent completed
- Cargo building: 30 percent completed
- Ground support equipment: 50 percent completed
- Passenger terminal: 21 percent completed
The rapid progress of the project can be attributed to its substantial workforce. India's JMC is overseeing the project with a team of 500 employees. As the project enters its peak, the workforce is expected to increase to 900, according to JMC. The company's official statement said that the project is anticipated to conclude by August 2024.