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Parliamentary Committee to fly Addu, assess airport

18 July 2019, MVT 21:55
A Maldivian flight grounded on the Addu International Airport. PHOTO: MIHAARU FILES
18 July 2019, MVT 21:55

Members of the Parliamentary Committee on State-owned Enterprises (SOE), on Thursday, decided to visit Addu City, in order to assess the Addu International Airport (AIA).

Speaking at the committee on Wednesday, AIA's Board Member Ibrahim Noordeen, noted that the airport faces substantial risks and fail to meet modern-day standards, according to audit reports.

"The only way to assess how deteriorated it is, is by going there to observe it", said Noordeen.

Further, Committee Member and Henveiru South MP Hussain Shaheem stated that AIA was created to usher development to the southernmost atoll.

The airport is co-owned by the state with 70 percent of its shares and the remaining 30 percent by Casa Holdings, a company represented by the top businessmen in the country.

He stated that state representatives who sit on the executive board must bear responsibilities for AIA's failure.

He said, "A state representative on the board must be able to conduct the required communication with ministries and government offices.".

Moreover, Shaheem stated that AIA is currently operating without a chairperson or managing director and was left without direction, adding that the non-success paints a bad picture on Casa Holdings.

Further noting that 130 hotel rooms were included in the development proposal when the holding company bought the shares, he stated that Casa decided on investing any returns from the hotel back into the airport.

Thoddoo MP Hassan Shiyam attributes AIA's failure to neglect by former presidents Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom and Dr Mohamed Waheed.

The lawmaker stated that Casa is blamed for its disfunction while the "70 percent shareholders remain asleep".

Raising concerns from Addu Atoll natives, Feydhoo MP Mohamed Nihad urged the state to investigate the matter.

According to local media MIhaaru, MP Nihad also called for the resignation of a member appointed to the Privatization and Corporation Board (PCB), the body responsible for managing SOEs.

Initially named Gan International Airport, the name was changed following Casa's acquisition of its shares. The name change was brought forward with a large business plan in 2012. However, the proposed plan has failed to actualize till date.

The airport was originally built by the United Kingdom as a staging post for its Royal Air Force during the 1950s and was handed over to Maldives in 1976.

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