British CEO takes charge of Maldives airport operator as acting chief retires

Moosa Solih, the acting Managing Director of Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL), has retired after almost four decades of service, handing over the reigns of the country’s main airport to the recently-appointed chief executive.

Since Adil Moosa resigned from the Managing Director’s post in November 2018 after a change in government, Moosa Solih had been running MACL in an acting capacity.

Solih had served the state-owned airport operator and its predecessor bodies for 39 years.

He joined the nation’s main airport as an engineer right after completing his studies from the Al-Azhar University in Egyptian capital Cairo in the early 1980s.

During his long and distinguished career, he served in several senior positions, including as the Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Chief Information Technology Officer.

“Over the years, Mr Moosa Solih had demonstrated, leadership and guided the company overseeing numerous technical projects with commitment and integrity. His strategy of practicality had steered MACL into a more driven company,” a statement read.

“MACL thank Mr Moosa Solih’s invaluable service to the company and wish him all best in his future endeavours.”

As Solih retires, Gordon Andrew Stewart takes charge as the new Chef Executive Officer and Managing Director of MACL. His appointment was announced late last month and officially confirmed on Sunday.

Stewart has over 30 years of experience in the global aviation industry, having worked across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and North America.

He spent 20 years of his career at executive and board level positions.

In July 2019, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said his government was restructuring MACL. A chief executive and a Chief Operating Officer would be appointed as part of the restructuring process, he had said.

MACL is the most profitable state-owned enterprise in the country, with MVR 1.2 billion ($77.9 million) in net profit recorded in 2018 alone.

However, the company has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, as international and local authorities imposed far-reaching travel restrictions to control the spread of the virus.

Meanwhile, MACL oversees a $800 million mega project to expand and upgrade the main Velana International Airport. 

The project involves building a brand new runway, an international passenger terminal 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.

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 over the next few years.

Photo: A file photo taken in January 2020 shows then acting Managing Director of MACL Moosa Solih speaking to reporters during a media tour of the airport development project. FILE PHOTO/ SUN ONLINE

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