Maldives newest airport welcomes maiden flight, scheduled service to begin soon
Newly constructed Dhaalu Airport welcomed its maiden flight on Thursday as it prepares to begin scheduled operations in about two weeks.
Maldives flagship carrier Maldivian’s test flight landed at the airport, built on the island of Kudahuvadhoo in the southern Dhaalu atoll, at 9.27am Thursday with several dignitaries onboard, including tourism minister Moosa Zameer, MP for Kudahuvadhoo constituency Ahmed Amir, civil aviation chief Hussein Jaleel and Maldivian’s parent company Island Aviation Services’ (IAS) Managing Director Abdul Haris.
An official from Dhaalu Airport Holdings, a subsidiary of the airport developer Reollo Investment, told local media that scheduled flights by Maldivian will commence in about 10 days. The airline will initially operate a daily service, he added.
The USD20 million airport, which has been built on 64 hectares of land reclaimed from the lagoon of Kudahuvadhoo, promises to be the most advanced domestic airport in the Maldives. It has a 1,800 metre long runway that can accommodate 42 ATR or Dash-8 aircrafts at once, and is also the only domestic airport in the country with facilities to cater to private jets.
Dhaalu Airport is part of the development of the newly opened Kandima Maldives resort. The resort, which opened early this year, 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 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.
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.
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.