Maldives kicks off main airport’s new runway construction

Construction works of a brand new runway at the Maldives main Velana International Airport has kicked off, state owned airport operator Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL) announced Thursday.

Associate General Manager Hassan Areef told local media that cement for the foundation layer would initially be laid 270 millimetres thick before being compacted to a 200-millimetre thick layer. It would be covered and levelled with additional four layers of cement, he added.

“This is a milestone. No work of this magnitude had previously been carried out as part of the new runway project,” Areef said.

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 for 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 1.5 million tourists before the end of this year.

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