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The airport development project in Hoarafushi, Haa Alifu Atoll is one of the most crucial projects launched by the administration, as it is associated with the hopes and dreams of many in the northernmost atoll of the Maldives.
The project to develop an airport in Haa Alifu Atoll was launched with the aim of resolving the transportation difficulties faced by residents of the atoll, whose nearest airport is currently located in Hanimaadhoo, Haa Dhaalu Atoll. However, the trip from the northernmost islands in Haa Alifu Atoll to Hanimadhoo itself is costly and time consuming.
Speaking to PSM News, President of Hoarafushi Council Mohamed Waheed said the 45-minute trip from Hoarafushi to Hanimaadhoo on a speedboat costs USD 162. He said the long and costly trip to the nearest airport is a major inconvenience faced by the people of Hoarafushi and nearby islands.
Meanwhile, most people in the atoll also attribute the lack of tourism development in the atoll to the difficulties faced in travel. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the people of Haa Alifu Atoll have wholeheartedly welcomed the decision of the adminsitration to develop an airport in Hoarafushi.
The previous administration had originally planned to develop an airport in Maafinolhu, an uninhabited island lying in the same lagoon as Hoarafushi. However, the current administration decided to develop the airport in Hoarafushi, in an effort to reduce the destruction of delicate green islands.
The project to develop Hoarafushi Airport was contracted to Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC) in early 2019. Dredging and reclamation of 842,200 cubic metres of land required for the airport development project was commenced in April 2019 and completed in August 2019. Construction of 1,120 metres of revetment as shore protection around the airport was completed in March 2020.
The state-owned enterprise said the development of the airport is moving forward with over 80% of the project completed so far. The project includes construction of a 1,200 metre runway, an 8,635 square-metre apron and taxiway, service roads, a 9,473 square-metre parking area, a 1,718 square-metre of fire access roads and 720 metres of airport security and beach fence area.
In addition, MTCC has also been recently contracted to develop the passenger terminal and fire building in the airport. MTCC says the development of the airport is expected to be completed by the end of October.
The people of Hoarafushi and other nearby islands in Haa Alifu Atoll are eagerly waiting for the inauguration of the airport. Many in the atoll believe the airport will serve as a gateway for economic activities in the atoll.