The Maldives is set to open a significant portion of the new international terminal at Velana International Airport (VIA) by the end of this year, as revealed by MACL MD Ibrahim Shareef in an interview with the media. This development comes as part of President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu’s ambitious plan to enhance the airport’s capacity and services.
Shareef announced that a large part of the passenger terminal is expected to be operational within the year, following President Muizzu’s request to expedite the project. This expansion aims to increase the airport’s passenger capacity from the current four million to seven million and is expected to create approximately 1,500 new jobs. The project, a major boost to the local economy, has been awarded to the Saudi Bin Laden Company.
In addition to the expansion, President Dr. Muizzu envisions a long-term plan to accommodate up to 25 million passengers, which Shareef believes will transform the Maldivian economy. The president’s vision extends beyond just the airport expansion; it includes integrating the entire economy and establishing an economic zone around the airport. This comprehensive strategy is set to redefine the Maldives’ position in the global travel and trade sectors.
The plan also includes the construction of a separate jet terminal to cater to the increasing number of private jets, which currently averages over 2,000 annually. The new jet terminal is designed to offer luxury services to meet the growing demand.
Moreover, Shareef emphasised the need to enhance the airport’s infrastructure to support the expansion. This includes strengthening the electricity and lighting services and improving the emergency fire rescue services in line with the increasing flight operations. A new fire station is also in the pipeline to bolster safety measures at the airport.
Last week, a new international cargo terminal was inaugurated at VIA, significantly increasing the cargo service capacity from 50,000 tonnes to 120,000 tonnes. This expansion addresses a critical issue faced by resorts – the deterioration of goods due to inadequate cold storage space. The new capacity ensures that perishable goods for the tourism sector will be preserved better, and general cargo can be stored more safely.
The development of VIA, valued at over USD 800 million, is one of the largest projects in the Maldives. The project has experienced delays, including design changes by the previous government. However, significant progress has been made recently, including the completion of a 3,400-metre-long and wide Code F runway, valued at USD 373 million, and a fuel farm with triple the current capacity nearing completion. The new cargo terminal is also expected to simplify import and export processes, further enhancing VIA’s role in the Maldives’ economic growth.