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New passenger terminal: Services for 3.2 million people to begin in November with three aerobridges

Operations of the new terminal is now set to commence in November, six months ahead of the original timeline, as stated by MACL MD, Shareef. The initial opening will use a single section of the terminal with 3 out of the 6 aerobridges utilized for operations.

Aishath Shuba Solih
22 May 2024, MVT 15:55
New passenger terminal at the Velana International Airport (VIA). -- Photo: MACL
Aishath Shuba Solih
22 May 2024, MVT 15:55

The reason that the tourism sector of the Maldives is not advancing at the desired pace is owed to insufficient capacity of the airport. Tourism makes eighty percent of the demand at airports even at present. Although efforts to develop the airport was begun eight years ago to address this, this work remains unfinished till today. After the new government assumed office on November 17 last year, their foremost action was to expedite this process. They began steady efforts to commence operations of the new airport terminal, currently undergoing construction, as soon as possible.

During a special interview with Mihaaru News, Managing Director of the Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL), Ibrahim Shareef Mohamed stated that the terminal was set to commence operations in 2025 when he first assumed his position. He revealed that, however, the terminal is progressing six months ahead of the timeline owing to measures implemented by President Dr Mohamed Muizzu's request.

Managing Director of Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL), Ibrahim Shareef Mohamed during his interview with Mihaaru News. -- Photo: Nishan Ali / Mihaaru News

A fund pool of USD 100 million (MVR 1.5 billion) from the Saudi Fund and USD 80 million (MVR 1.2 billion) from the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development was acquired in order to expedite the project. With this, the total value of the project is expected to soar to MVR 7 billion.

Meanwhile, 600 laborers are currently engaged in 18 hours of work per day at the new terminal every day. This marks a rise close to 60 percent from the previous work schedule. The number of laborers and their work hours were increased to ensure the targeted deadline of the government is reached on time.

Shareef revealed that operations of the terminal will be initiated in one section of the terminal in the beginning. Services will be first extended using three of the six aerobridges ongoing affixation at the terminal.

New passenger terminal at the Velana International Airport (VIA). -- Photo: MACL

This terminal is being built to cater to 7.5 million passengers. During initial operations, the terminal is set to provide services to 3.7 million people.

Shareef assured that although all the aerobridges will not be utilized in the beginning, the check-in counters and immigration counters will be utilized to provide services. Moreover, efforts to finish construction of part of the duty free area together with the first section of the terminal is also proceeding at present.

"We are targeting for the year end. Around October/November. A partial completion." said Shareef.

New passenger terminal at the Velana International Airport (VIA). -- Photo: MACL

Adding that the current terminal will also continue its operations despite the launching of this new terminal, he explained that a domestic terminal and a terminal for landing narrow body aircrafts will be established within the current terminal.

"All construction work is completed. Fit-outs, equipment required for the terminal and air conditioning work is proceeding inside right now. Outer cladding is now finished. Flooring work is ongoing within this right now. Most aero bridges have been installed," he said.

Shareef stated that the bridges are currently detached as they wish to further expand the space and assured the bridges will be connected as soon as the work is over.

New passenger terminal at the Velana International Airport (VIA). -- Photo: MACL

Despite operations commencing in one section of the terminal, he also maintained that the remaining construction will be proceeded in a way that does not pose inconvenience to people using the terminal.

"We give great care to completing ahead any work that may negatively affect the electric state of a newly opened facility. Completing all such work, even if that is cementing a wall, applying putty, painting," he explained.

"The most important work right now is installing the check-in system. That is the work that is underway right now." he said.

Aerobridges at the new passenger terminal in Velana International Airport (VIA). -- Photo: MACL

Shareef revealed that the delay right now is caused by the chiller systems required for the terminal operations. Adding that they will be sourced from America, he ensured that efforts are being made to import the equipment while working closely with the contractor.

While the materials are currently en route to Maldives, Shareef said that the contractor has assured the chiller systems will also be brought and installed ahead of the terminal opening on November.

Some details of the new tunnel

- 78,000 square meters of space

- Provision of daily services to 8,000 passengers

- Self-service check-in amenities

- 38 immigration counters

- Increase in simultaneous passenger services by 20 percent

- 7 additional check-in counters

Managing Director of Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL), Ibrahim Shareef Mohamed during his interview with Mihaaru News. -- Photo: Nishan Ali / Mihaaru News

MACL stated that the entire terminal will see its conclusion amid June next year. The country's tourism is also expected to expand once operations of the new terminal is commenced following completion.

The airport is expected to observe an employee surge of 1,800 with the new terminal. While over 30 airlines are currently providing their services at the airport, more airlines are expected to be offered opportunities once the terminal commences operations.

Financial institutions further predicts a rise to the economic income and an increased economic growth to 5.2 percent if services of the new terminals are provided in accordance with the government's plans.