Maldives main airport breaks record on daily runway movements

Maldives main airport has set a new record on runway movements in a single day, airport operator Maldives Airport Company Limited (MACL) announced Tuesday.

In an announcement, the state-owned company said 219 runway movements took place at Velana International Airport on February 24. The previous record was 214 runway movements on January 6, 2018, it added.

Velana International Airport has set several new records over the past two months.

The airport witnessed a record number of flight movements in late December, whilst a record 83 private jets were welcomed by the airport in the last week of 2018 as celebrities and travellers from around the world flocked to the island nation for the Christmas and New Year celebrations.

The country’s main water aerodrome at Velana International Airport also handled a record 531 seaplane departures and arrivals on February 3.

A newly developed runway at the airport was inaugurated in September 2018, but it has yet to be used for flight operations.

Meanwhile, construction of a new international passenger terminal has stalled.

Designing and construction of the new 80,000 sq ft passenger terminal, which is expected to cater to at least seven million passengers per annum, has been contracted to the Saudi Binladin Group.

The new terminal, which costs USD 350 million, is part of a USD 800 million mega project to expand and upgrade the main Velana International Airport. The project also involves building the brand new runway and a seaplane terminal as well as 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.

By the end of last year, 1.4 million tourists from around the world visited the Maldives. There were 145 resorts and 521 guesthouses in operation, with a total of 44, 860 beds.

The government aims to attract around 1.5 million tourists to the Maldives this year and to increase that number to 2.5 million per year by 2023.

Reflecting the government’s pledge, the state budget for 2019 includes MVR 104,200,000 (USD 6.7 million) for tourism promotion, up from MVR 34,733,333 (USD 2.2 million) this year and the previous year.

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