New Maldives seaplane terminal ready for opening

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Photo Credit: PSM

The Velana International Airport’s swanky new seaplane terminal is ready for its long-awaited official opening.

After conducting trial flights from the new dock, the airport operator expects to complete relocation and transfer of services from the old seaplane terminal within a week, state media reported on Sunday (10 July).

All morning operations and movements have been changed to the new terminal, the Maldives Airports Company Ltd’s (MACL) deputy managing director Ibrahim Thoha told reporters during a media tour of the facilities on Thursday.

In the world’s largest seaplane operation, the new terminal and dock can accommodate more than 100 seaplanes and operate 300 daily flights on average – rising to 600 during peak season – with the capacity to serve more than 6,000 tourists a day.

With 28,000 square meters of floor space, the four-storey terminal building includes offices, arrival lobbies, and 43 lounges, most of which are dedicated for resorts aside from the MACL’s VIP and business lounges. The terminal’s sleek design reflects the turquoise and blue shades of the famed Maldivian lagoons. Counters for Trans Maldivian Airways – which operates the world’s largest seaplane fleet – the privately-owned Manta Air and national carrier Maldivian airline are located at the entrance.

Over 35,000 square meters of land was reclaimed and over 720 meters of sheet piling was done at the eastern lagoon of Hulhulé island for the US$55 million seaplane project.

Once the new terminal is fully operational, MACL will begin demolition of the old terminal, which it hopes to complete during the fourth quarter in order to start using the new runway. The code-F runway with 3400 meters in length and 60 meters in width – which will allow VIA to accommodate A380 Aircraft – was completed in 2018 but could not be used for takeoff and landing as the old seaplane terminal was in closer proximity than required by international standards.