Sheet piling of new runway land begins at Maldives main airport

Installation of sheet piles at the land reclaimed for a new runway at the Maldives main airport has begun, state airport operator Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL) has announced.

MACL Managing Director Adil Moosa told journalists last week that sheet piles were being installed at 3,300 metres of land reclaimed for the new runway. Compacting and levelling the reclaimed land was also underway, he added.

After compacting and levelling the land, foundation works will commence. Cement for the foundation layer will initially be laid 270 millimetres thick before being compacted to a 200-millimetre thick layer. It will be covered and levelled with four additional layers of cement.

The new 3,400 metre by 60 metre runway is funded by a USD 400 million loan from China EXIM Bank, with designing and construction handed over to Beijing Urban Construction Group (BUCG) of China. The runway is being built on land reclaimed from the lagoon of the airport island of Hulhule.

The new runway, which can accommodate world’s largest passenger airliner Airbus A380, will be operational by mid-2018.

The new runway is part of a USD800 million mega project to expand and upgrade the Maldives’ main gateway to cater to at least seven million passengers per annum. The project also involves building a brand new passenger terminal, a seaplane terminal, and other support facilities including a fuel farm that can store 45 million litres and a 120,000 tonne cargo facility.

The airport is a key infrastructure that supports the Maldives multi-billion dollar tourism industry. Expansion of the airport is expected to boost tourist arrivals to the island nation as it aims to attract at least two million tourists by 2020.

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