MACL says new seaplane terminal common use facility

A new seaplane terminal being developed at the Maldives’ main Velana International Airport will be operated as a common-use facility, the airport operator announced Wednesday.

Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL) said on Twitter that the facility is designed and intended as a common use facility to be used for multiple operators.

“There has been rumours that MACL intend to lease the new Seaplane Terminal to TMA. @MACLmedia wants to assure the general public that the company does not have any such intentions,” the tweet read.

Recent local media reports have quoted unnamed officials as saying that the airport operator had decided to hand over management of the new seaplane terminal to Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA).

The new seaplane terminal is being developed on 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 will be built on an additional 14,000 square metre reclaimed land.

The terminal, which is expected to be operational by the end of 2019, is part of a USD 800 million mega project to expand and upgrade the Maldives’ main gateway to cater to at least seven million passengers per annum.

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

Two airlines handle seaplane operations: flagship carrier Maldivian and privately run TMA. Private airlines, including Manta Air and Villa Air’s Flyme are set to begin seaplane operations this year.

TMA, which is controlled by a consortium led by US-based Bain Capital and Chinese conglomerate Tempus Group, operates an all-amphibian fleet of more than 50 aircraft, making it the largest seaplane operator in the world. Maldivian has a fleet of 10 seaplanes.

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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