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New VIA runway, seaplane terminal becomes operational

Mohamed Rehan
06 October 2022, MVT 13:50
An Emirates flight made the first landing at the new runway; the vessel was welcomed with a water salute-- Photo: Nishan Ali | Mihaaru
Mohamed Rehan
06 October 2022, MVT 13:50

The new runway at Velana International Airport (VIA) becomes officially operational on Thursday, October 6.

The tarmac was one of the major redevelopment components of the airport venue under former president Abdulla Yameen's administration.

The inaugural ceremony for the new airport establishments, was officiated by Maldives Vice President Faisal Naseem.

Though the runway initially opened back in 2018, amid the former president's administration, official use of the runway was pushed back due to the delays in shifting the old seaplane terminal operations, which was situated next to the new runway, to its newly developed location.

Under the airport's redevelopment and expansion, the new tarmac was installed by China's Beijing Urban Construction Group (BUCG) funded through a China EXIM Bank loan.

The Maldivian government awarded the new runway development project to the company in 2015 for USD 452 million.

Following the inauguration and effective operations of the new runway, MACL Chairman Mohamed Umar Manik confirms the redevelopment incurred additional, previously unprecedented, expenses before the entire set of works came to full conclusion.

"Several aspects were attended while developing the new runway, which includes installation of proper hydro-drainage. The tarmac comes with all state-of-the-art equipment," he said.

The redevelopment plan additionally included establishing a new fuel farm at the airport venue. According to Manik, following completion of the farm, aircraft refueling can be done strictly through the farm instead of channeling it through oil or fuel bowsers.

The new runway measures 3,400 meters in length and 60 meters in width. The tarmac was designed to hold larger commercial vessels such as the Airbus A380s.

"Airport's throughput will increase from 8 to 12, while landing intervals will reduce from 10 minutes to 3 minutes. Runways will now be cleared at most within a minute," Mahujoob Shujau, the Managing Director of MACL commented.

Speaking about the entire redevelopment plan, Manik further said, "The picture will be complete once the [new passenger] terminal is fully done. I hope this newly improved airport will prospectively go on to become a central hub."

According to him, a new state-of-the-art cargo complex is also under development with the aim of making VIA an air-cargo transit point.

"The future is bright for VIA," Manik added.

With the new runway becoming operational, the previously used runway has transitioned into a taxiway according to MACL.

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