Chinese firm to build airport in Maldives’ Lhaviyani tourist hotspot

A contract has been awarded to Beijing Urban Construction Group (BUCG) to construct a domestic airport in the tourist hotspot of Lhaviyani atoll.

At a ceremony held at Hurawalhi Maldives resort’s 5.8 Undersea restaurant last Monday, Kuredu Holdings director Mohamed Moosa and BUCG’s International President Li Dausan signed the agreement to construct the airport.

Speaking to reporters after the ceremony, Moosa, who is amongst the leading businessmen in the country, said BUCG was awarded the project because of its technical capacity and experience in the Maldives, especially in building a new runway at the Maldives main Velana International Airport. Construction is expected to finish in eight months, with the airport being operational by next June, he added.

Government had in May awarded a contract to leading resort operator Kuredu Holdings to develop the airport on the island of Madivaru, which had previously been used for military training.

Kuredu Holdings will invest USD 13 million to develop and bring the airport to operation in a year. The project involves reclaiming some three hectares of land from the lagoon of Madivaru, building a 1.2-kilometre runway, and a training academy for aviation officials from flagship carrier Maldivian and seaplane operator Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA).

The company can develop a city hotel to incentivise the airport operation.

Kuredu Holdings developed Kuredu island as a tourist resort in 1995-1996, and assisted sister company Komandoo Holdings Pvt Ltd to develop Komandoo island as a resort in 1997-1998. Kuredu Holdings owns and operate hotel resorts in the Maldives, and is currently developing several new resorts.

Lhaviyani atoll has one of the highest concentrations of tourism activity in the Maldives, with eight resorts including Kuredu Resort Maldives, Komandoo Island Resort and Spa, Hurawalhi Maldives, Palm Beach Island Maldives Resort and Spa, Atmosphere Kanifushi, Kanuhura Maldives, Fushifaru Maldives and Cocoon Maldives already in operation. Several new islands in the atoll are being developed as resorts, including the soon to be launched Kudadoo Maldives Private Island by Hurawalhi.

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 400 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.

Photo: PSM

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