Maldives says intl airport development priority project for 2020
Development of Velana International Airport is one of the key priority projects to be undertaken by the government next year, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih announced Sunday.
In his address at the official function held to mark the Republic Day, President Solih said the project to develop the Maldives’ main international airport had resumed. It had been continuing at a fast pace, he added.
Designing and construction of the new passenger terminal, which is expected to cater to at least seven million passengers per annum, was contracted to the Saudi Binladin Group in 2016, with the completion date set for late 2019.
However, the project came to a halt last year after the Saudi Fund for Development, which contributes majority of the funding for the terminal project, withheld funds amidst political turmoil and presidential elections.
The new government had negotiated with the aid agency to restart the project. A revised agreement was signed with Saudi Binladin Group in June.
Under the revised contract, the terminal and associated facilities are to be built in a 78,000sqm area.
The project, which is now set to complete in May 2022, includes building six contact stands and four remote stands at the new international terminal Building, land side roads and landscaping works, seaplane area with tourist lounges, fine dining, retail and lounges, MEP works including inline BHS, and vertical and horizontal assisted transportation which is compliant with EU and local security regulations. Demolition of existing pier building and related works is also included in the scope of work under the revised contract.
The new international terminal is part of a USD 800 million mega project to expand and upgrade the main Velana International Airport. The project also involves building a brand new runway and a seaplane terminal as well as other support facilities, including a fuel farm that can store 45 million litres and a 120,000 tonne cargo facility.
USD 570 million of the USD 800 million needed for the project have been raised from international financiers, especially Arab funding agencies. It includes a USD 100 million loan from Saudi Fund for Development, a USD 50 million loan from Kuwait Fund, a USD 50 million loan from OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) and a USD 50 million loan from the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development.
China EXIM Bank also granted a loan of USD 400 million for the new runway, which was contracted to Beijing Urban Construction Group (BUCG) of China. The new runway is set to come into operation later this year.
MACL had also invested USD 50 million from its own funds.
The airport is a key infrastructure that supports the Maldives multi-billion dollar tourism industry. Expansion of the airport is expected to boost tourist arrivals to the island nation as it aims to attract at least two million tourists by 2020.