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Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL) has stated the new runway at Velana International Airport (VIA) will be operational within three months.
MACL stated that the new runway is currently unusable because it does not fit international standards, as the seaplane terminal is too close to the runway. MACL is currently using the new runway as a parallel taxiway to gain operational efficiency and increase the number of accommodations at VIA from 8 to 16 aircraft.
Deputy Managing Director Ibrahim Thoha said the existing seaplane terminal will be removed once all seaplane operations of VIA are transferred to the newly developed seaplane terminal. He said the trials of the new terminal have been very successful, adding the new terminal is ready for operations and all seaplane operations can be transferred to the new terminal within a week.
Furthermore, Deputy Managing Director Thoha said that Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA), which has the world’s largest seaplane fleet, has transferred many of its services to the new terminal, although some seaplane operators are still established at the old terminal. He expressed confidence that these services can also be transferred to the new terminal and work can begin soon to remove the old terminal. He added that the government aims to begin operations with the new VIA runway in the last quarter of the year.
Additionally, Thoha said the opening of the new seaplane terminal was delayed to train the employees and to conduct the trials. He said the final trials prior to commencing operations at the new seaplane terminal are nearing completion.
The new VIA runway is 3,400m long and 65m wide and can accommodate wide-bodied passenger aircraft such as the A380. The runway was developed by China based-Beijing Urban Construction Group (BUCG) at a cost of USD400 million. The project was funded by a loan provided by China-based Axis Bank Limited.
The new runway was developed to accommodate the largest commercial airplanes currently in use. Test flights were conducted on the new runway in 2018.