Construction of new seaplane terminal at Maldives main airport kicks off
Construction of a new seaplane terminal at the Maldives main Velana International Airport kicked off on Monday.
At a ceremony held at the land reclaimed for the new terminal, economic minister Mohamed Saeed inaugurated the project. It was attended by the Chinese ambassador in Maldives Zhang Lizhong and officials from contractor Beijing Urban Construction Group (BUCG).
Adil Moosa, Managing Director of state owned airport operator Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL), told the attendees that the new terminal would be twice the size of the existing seaplane terminal.
“This terminal will be a major boost to the seaplane operation, which is the largest in the world. The terminal can be expanded even further if need be,” he said.
The new seaplane terminal is being 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 additional 14,000 square metre reclaimed land.
MACL said the four-storey terminal will be equipped with over 80 docking platforms. Passenger facilities will include a spacious arrival lobby, VIP lounges and restaurants, it added.
The new seaplane terminal, which costs USD 40 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 a consortium led by US-based Bain Capital and Chinese conglomerate Tempus Group, operates an all-amphibian fleet of 49 aircrafts making it the largest seaplane operator in the world. Maldivian has a fleet of 13 seaplanes and serves over 10 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.