MTCC to reclaim land for new domestic airport in Maldives north
Government on Monday contracted Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC) to reclaim land for a new domestic airport in the northernmost Haa Alif Atoll.
At a ceremony held at the tourism ministry Monday afternoon, tourism minister Moosa Zameer and MTCC CEO Ibrahim Ziyath signed an agreement, handing over the MVR 64 million (USD 4.1 million) project to reclaim land for the planned airport in the island of Hoarafushi.
Ziyath told journalists that 16 hectares would be reclaimed from the lagoon of Hoarafushi and the neighbouring uninhabited island of Maafinolhu. MTCC’s brand new Mahaa Jarraafu dredger would be used for the project, which would be completed in six months, he added.
“Our ongoing harbour projects are being completed. So we’ve machineries that we can readily mobilise for this project,” Ziyath said.
Minister Zameer said the airport in Hoarafushi was part of his government’s policy of developing airports within half an hour reach of every inhabited island in the country. Several airport projects are underway, including those at Kulhudhuffushi in Haa Dhaal atoll and Funadhoo in Shaviyani atoll, he added.
“Airports are a vital infrastructure to support our ever expanding tourism industry,” the minister said.
“Some parts of the country like the northernmost atolls and Gaafu Alif and Gaafu Dhaal atolls in the south are not easily accessible by seaplane. Development of new regional airports will make guest transfer more convenient.”
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 400 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.
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 government has contracted both local and international companies to develop additional domestic airports across the archipelago in a bid to boost tourism.