Sheet piling of new seaplane terminal land begins at Maldives main airport

Installation of sheet piles at the land reclaimed for a new seaplane terminal at the Maldives main Velana International Airport has started, state-owned airport operator Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL) announced Wednesday.

The new seaplane terminal is to be developed on the reclaimed lagoon behind the air traffic control tower on the eastern side of the airport island of Hulhule. The new terminal will sit on 18,000 square metres of reclaimed land and the accompanying seaplane hanger and MRO facility will be built on an additional 14,000 square metre reclaimed land.

An official from MACL told local daily Mihaaru that sheet piles have already been installed at a 350-metre area from the land reclaimed for the terminal. An additional 140-metre area from the land reclaimed for the hanger and MRO facility has also been fitted with sheet piles, he added.

MACL Managing Director Adil Moosa had earlier said that a contractor will be assigned soon to build the terminal on the reclaimed land. The four-storey terminal will have state-of-the-art equipment and facilities, including lounges and restaurants, he added.

The new seaplane terminal, which costs USD 30 million, is part of a USD 800 million mega project to expand and upgrade the Maldives’ main gateway. The seaplane terminal currently in operation has to be moved in order to make space for a new runway and terminal.

Seaplane is the preferred mode of transport between the main Velana International Airport and dozens of resorts, especially those located in outer atolls.

Two companies handle seaplane operations; flagship carrier Maldivian and privately run Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA).

TMA, which is controlled by US venture capital firm Blackstone, operates an all-amphibian fleet of 49 aircrafts making it the largest seaplane operator in the world. Maldivian has a fleet of 10 seaplanes and serves six resorts.

The seaplane operators are investing heavily in expanding their operations, especially their fleet. The expansion comes in line with growing tourist arrivals and increasing bed capacity due to the opening of dozens of new resorts in the Maldives.

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