President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, on Thursday, inaugurated the first airport developed by the current administration at the northernmost Haa Alif Atoll.
The president travelled to Hoarafushi for the inauguration this afternoon, in his first visit outside the capital since the COVID-19 outbreak.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, President Solih described the airport unveiling as the end of a long wait for the people of Hoarafushi as well as the entire atoll.
He added that the opening of Hoarafushi Airport is an important step towards fulfilling the state’s promise to decentralise the country.
“This is the beginning of development in Ihavandhippolhu (Haa Alif Atoll). [The airport] is a means to bring the development hoped for by the people of Thuraakunu, Uligan, Molhadhoo, Ihavandhoo, Thakandhoo and Maarandhoo”, he said, listing down the names of the remaining islands in the atoll.
In his speech, he extended gratitude towards Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC), for completing the airport development project in a short period of time despite the ongoing pandemic.
President Solih also acknowledged the efforts of Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation as well as Ministry of National Planning, Housing and Infrastructure for their involvement in the project.
Hoarafushi Airport is expected to ease travel for residents of the region, as travelling to the next closest airport in Haa Dhaalu Atoll’s Hanimaadhoo requires an hour-long journey across the often choppy waters of Gallandhoo Kandu. Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation Aishath Nahula confirmed that scheduled flight operations will begin within a week of the airport’s inauguration.
According to Hoarafushi Island Council, the airport will also provide a boost for tourism in the region, and open up doors for job opportunities and further development projects.
The MVR 198 million airport, listed in the state’s decentralisation plan, was contracted to MTCC on March 25, 2019, and completed with the involvement and contribution of the island’s residents in various forms.
The completed airport features a runway of 1,200 meters as well as an apron of 8,635 square meters, including a taxiway.
The airport is also equipped with a parking area of 9,473 square feet, a fire access road of 1,718 square feet and an airport security and beach fence of 720 meters.
In order to develop the airport, 842,000 cubic meters of land was reclaimed from the Hoarafushi lagoon in 2019.