Maldives newest airport welcomes scheduled flights

Newly constructed Dhaalu Airport welcomed scheduled flights on Wednesday.

A flight operated by Maldives flagship carrier Maldivian left the main Velana International Airport at 1.50pm and landed in Dhaalu Airport at 2.27pm.

Maldivian will operate a daily service to the airport, built on the island of Kudahuvadhoo in the southern Dhaalu atoll, with a one-way ticket costing MVR 888 (USD 58).

Ali Nashaath, Head of Administration at Island Aviation Services (IAS) which runs the national airline, told local media that cargo services would also be provided at the airport. Frequency on the Male-Kudahuvadhoo route would be increased soon, he added.

“Since there are many resorts in the atoll, we will be able to increase the number of flights to at least four per day before the end of the year,” Nashaath said.

Dhaalu Airport welcomed it maiden flight on June 1, as a test flight carrying state dignitaries and top aviation officials landed at the airport to a warm welcome by the islanders.

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 Niyama Private Islands Maldives.

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.

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