Maldives readies to open airport in emerging tourist hotspot

Maldives is gearing up for the opening of another domestic airport, strengthening the island nation’s transport infrastructure and boosting tourism.

The airport being developed on the island of Kudahuvadhoo in Dhaalu Atoll is set to begin test flights towards the end of this month, its developer Reollo Investment’s CEO Mohamed Khaleel told local media on Sunday.

“All aspects of the project have been completed except the apron,” he said.

Khaleel stressed that some 90 employees have been trained to work at the airport, which would be called Dhaalu Airport.

The USD20 million airport, which has been built on 64 hectares of land reclaimed from the lagoon of Kudahuvadhoo, is part of the development of the newly opened Kandima Maldives resort. The resort, which opened last month, is located a 20-minute boat ride away from the airport.

In addition to Kandima, Dhaalu Atoll is home to three other resorts; Sun Aqua Vilu Reef, Angsana Velavaru and PER AQUUM Niyama.

An overwater villa in the newly opened Kandima Maldives resort in Dhaalu Atoll. PHOTO/ KANDIMA

An airport in the atoll will benefit locals who often travel to capital Male, and boost tourism by reducing the price of domestic travel to resorts in the atoll from the main Velana International Airport. Resorts in the atoll now depend on more expensive seaplane transfers.

Maldives, the most dispersed country on the planet with 1,192 islands spread over roughly 90,000 square kilometres, already has 11 airports, including three international airports. The country’s flagship carrier Maldivian operates flights to all the airports in the country while a private airline flies to a few select airports.

Over a million tourists from across the globe visit the Indian Ocean island nation every year to holiday in one of the 120 resorts and 300 plus guesthouses located in all corners of the country. The multi-billion dollar tourism industry, which is the country’s main economic activity, relies heavily on the domestic transport infrastructure, especially air travel.

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