Male’, Maldives, 9th October 2022 – Velana International Airport’s new Code F Runway and the new Noovilu seaplane terminal were officially inaugurated by the Vice President of the Maldives, Faisal Naseem on Thursday last week. The special ceremony was attended by the Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL) Chairman, Mohamed Umar Manik, and the Chinese Ambassador to the Maldives Wang Lixin. The Minister of Tourism, Defense Minister and other senior officials were also in attendance.
The new runway was constructed in 2018 as part of the ongoing airport expansion and development project. The 3,400m long and 60m wide runway will allow the airport to accommodate larger aircrafts such as the A380 Aircrafts, the world’s largest commercial aircrafts in operation. The runway is also equipped with latest technological facilities, Instrumental Landing Systems installed on both sides of the runway with ICAO category 1 Approach Lights leading to a shorter turnaround time, allowing it to handle over 14 aircraft movements per hour.
The last aircraft to depart from the airport’s old runway was Turkish Airlines flight TK731. The old runway will be used as a taxiway in the future as flights begin to use the new runway for arrivals and departures. The inauguration of the new runway was commemorated by the landing of Emirates’ flight EK656 from Dubai. the aircraft showcased the 50th Year livery and landed at 7:00AM on Thursday morning. The inauguration ceremony took place upon the arrival of the first aircraft on the new runway. Behind the Emirates’ flight were more incoming aircrafts including Gulf Air, Maldivian, Manta Air, Etihad, and more.
In addition to commencement of operations on the new code F runway, which will smoothen operations at the airport and cater better to the current demand as well as future growth, the new seaplane terminal was also officially declared open.
The Noovilu Seaplane Terminal is the largest terminal in the world. Its modern 4-story terminal includes new facilities such as a VVIP area and dedicated arrival lobbies. The terminal’s 28,000 sqm of floor space allows for spacious lounges, extra boarding gates and a host of office spaces. It has a total of 42 lounges, out which 40 lounges are leased to resorts. The two lounges that are not leased are operated by MACL. The ‘Vilu” business lounge of MACL has 235 seats and the ‘Neeru’ lounge has 315 seats. In addition to this, the new terminal area is designed to accommodate more than 85 seaplanes on docks, which is 50% more than the existing docks.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, the Vice President highlighted the importance of Velana International Airport and its latest development projects. The master plan includes the new runway and seaplane terminal, as well as an international passenger terminal, a fuel farm with a capacity of 45 million liters and a 120,000 tonne cargo facility.
He stated the significance of the new terminal, given that most tourists tend to board seaplanes to reach their destinations once they disembark from their international flights. The Maldives’ seaplane fleet makes about 600 flights per day and the new terminal is expected to drastically improve the operations and customer experience. Furthermore, he mentioned the government’s initiatives to upgrade transport networks across the Maldives’ atolls and emphasised the need for human development to be carried out in conjunction with airport development.