Maldives main airport to operationalise new runway from Tues

Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL) has decided to begin using the new runway of Velana International Airport (VIA) from Tuesday, three years after it was completed.

The runway was one of the biggest airport development projects undertaken during former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s administration. The runway was completed and opened in September 2018. However, the runway is not being used because the seaplane terminal of TMA, which is close to the new runway, has to be removed from the terminal.

New runway project:

  • USD 373 million (MVR 5.7 billion) project
  • The project was carried out through loans from Exim Bank of China
  • 3,400 metres long
  • 60 metres wide

MACL’s Corporate Communications Manager Shaman Shakir told ‘local media on Monday that although the new runway will become operational from Tuesday, flights will not land or use the runway. Instead, the new runway will be used as a taxiway after flights land on the existing runway.

“The new runway will be opened as a taxiway. There is no way to fly and open the runway. This will be opened by transferring the TMA terminal to the new terminal and demolishing the existing seaplane terminal,” Shamaan said.

Shamman said that even if the new runway is used only as a taxiway, the number of flights that can be operated at the airport will increase. He also said that the congestion at the airport would be resolved.

“The time required to hold the aircraft will be significantly reduced. The runway currently caters to eight aircraft per hour. With this change, it will increase to 16 aircraft per hour,” Shamaan said.

“It now takes 13-15 minutes for the runway to be cleared. With the new runway [being used as a taxiway], a flight will be cleared within 1.5 minutes.”

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