Velana International Airport

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Velana International Airport

ވެލާނާ ބައިނަލްއަޤުވާމީ ވައިގެ ބަނދަރު
VIA Logo.svg
Malé im Landeanflug.jpg
Airport typePublic
OwnerGovernment of the Maldives
OperatorMaldives Airports Company Limited (MACL)[1]
ServesMalé, Maldives
Opened19 October 1966; 56 years ago
Hub for
Elevation AMSL6 ft / 1 m
Coordinates04°11′30″N 073°31′44″E / 4.19167°N 73.52889°E / 4.19167; 73.52889Coordinates: 04°11′30″N 073°31′44″E / 4.19167°N 73.52889°E / 4.19167; 73.52889
MLE/VRMM is located in Maldives
Location of Airport in Hulhulé , Maldives
MLE/VRMM is located in Indian Ocean
MLE/VRMM (Indian Ocean)
MLE/VRMM is located in Asia
Direction Length Surface
m ft
18/36 3,400 11,155 Asphalt[2]
18/36 3,200 10,499 Asphalt
NR/SL 1,190 3,904 Water
NC/SC 1,100 3,609 Water
NL/SR 1,000 3,281 Water
E/W 800 2,625 Water

Velana International Airport (VIA) (Dhivehi: ވެލާނާ ބައިނަލްއަޤުވާމީ ވައިގެ ބަނދަރު) (IATA: MLE, ICAO: VRMM) is the main international airport in the Maldives. It is located on Hulhulé Island in the North Malé Atoll, nearby the capital island Malé. The airport is well connected with major airports around the world, mostly serving as the main gateway into the Maldives for tourists. It is managed financially and administratively by an independent corporate entity known as Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL).


Hulhulé Airport[edit]

The airport first started out as a small strip of land on the then inhabited island of Hulhulé. Hulhulé Airport was opened on 19 October 1960. The first runway built on Hulhulé Island was made of slotted steel sheets. This runway was 75 ft × 3,000 ft (23 m × 914 m). The first aircraft which landed at the airport was a Royal New Zealand Air Force Bristol Freighter, NZ5906,[6] on 19 October 1960 at 13:55hrs. The first commercial flight was an Air Ceylon flight (Avro 748; 4R-ACJ) landed on this runway was at 15:50hrs on 10 April 1962. The first aircraft owned by the Maldives landed on the runway of the Hulhulé Airport on 9 October 1974.[7]

In May 1964, the government and the people of Malé worked together to construct a new asphalt runway. The four districts of Malé competed for the prize money of 1,000 rufiyaa, awarded to the fastest district. On the first day 108 volunteers were enlisted for the project and 1,563.08 rufiyaa was donated. The new runway was opened on 12 April 1966 at 16:00 by President Ibrahim Nasir.[7]

Upgrade to Velana International Airport[edit]

When the tourism boom in the Maldives began in 1972, the country was in need of an international standard airport to transport international tourists to the resort islands. So, on 11 November 1981, the airport was officially inaugurated under a new name of "Malé International Airport".

Maldives Airports Company Ltd (MACL) was formed on 1 January 1994 to operate and manage the Malé International Airport. MACL is governed by the board of directors appointed by the President of the Maldives.[8]

On 26 July 2011, Malé International Airport was officially renamed as the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport in memory of Ibrahim Nasir, the 2nd President of the Maldives and the founder of the airport.

On 1 January 2017, the airport was rebranded as Velana International Airport, referring to the family house name of President Ibrahim Nasir. The rebranding is part of a strategic plan in aligning the airport with the economic vision of the Yameen administration.[9]

Privatisation of the airport[edit]

In 2010, the Nasheed administration appointed IFC to run a bidding process for the privatisation of the airport. The bid was won by a consortium between GMR Group and Malaysia Airports who provided Rufiyaa 1 billion[10] as upfront fee to the government for the expansion and modernisation of the airport by 2014, and its operation for 25 years.

By the end of the year, MACL officially handed over the aerodrome licence of the airport to the newly formed GMR Malé International Airport Ltd (GMIAL).[11][12] GMIAL announced that the development plans included reclaiming more land at the eastern end of the runway; where a new terminal is to be built. This terminal would consist of three separate bridged buildings. Plans for a separate cargo terminal were also announced. However, the project faced numerous delays.[13]

In late 2012, the new government of Maldives under the Waheed administration declared that the concession agreement was void ab initio and on 27 November 2012 gave GMIAL a deadline of seven days to 'evict the airport',[14][15] a decision which drew mass protests from the government's opposition, as well as criticism from the government and media of India.[16] On 7 December, GMR handed over the airport to the government, and MACL was reinstated as the operator.[17]

Expansion of the airport[edit]

On 18 September 2018, the airport finished a new runway. It is 3,400 metres long and 60 metres wide, built to serve larger aircraft.[18][19] However, it was only used as a taxiway until 2022 when the old Trans Maldivian Airways terminal was finally demolished.[20] It's expected to be the main runway at Velana International Airport by the winter of 2022.[21]

On 26 June 2019, a Maldivian Airbus A320 successfully tested the new southwest apron at Velana International Airport. This was the first live flight operation testing by Maldives Airports Company as they awaited final certification for operations. On 17 July 2019, the new apron was opened for flight operations. The ICAO fully compliant apron has three Code E MARS stands, two dedicated Code E stands and one dedicated Code C stand.

On 17 November 2019, a new Seaplane Terminal was opened with operations commencing with a Manta Air flight.[22]

The foundation work of the new passenger terminal being constructed at the airport has been completed as of December 2019.[23] The new passenger terminal is being developed at the south of the current international terminal and will have an area of over 78,000 square metres.[24] The current terminal was designed to serve 1 million passengers while the new terminal will have the capacity to serve 7.3 million passengers. Expected completion time of the new terminal is by mid 2022 and will cost about US$800 million.[19] The expansion project also includes the construction of a cargo terminal that is expected to be completed in 2020.[19]


The airport is at an elevation of 6 feet (2 m) above mean sea level. It has 2 asphalt runways designated 18/36 measuring 45 m × 3,200 m (148 ft × 10,499 ft) and 60 m × 3,400 m (200 ft × 11,150 ft).[3][2] The adjacent waterdrome which serves the large seaplane operations at Velana has 4 water runways, designated NR/SL, NC/SC, NL/SR and E/W, measuring 60 m × 1,190 m (200 ft × 3,900 ft), 60 m × 1,100 m (200 ft × 3,610 ft), 60 m × 1,000 m (200 ft × 3,280 ft) and 60 m × 800 m (200 ft × 2,620 ft) respectively.[25] Runway NL is takeoff only and runway SR is landing only due to proximities to flying restricted areas.

The airport has three terminals: the International Terminal, the Domestic Terminal and the waterdrome Seaplane Terminal.

The airport includes the corporate headquarters of Trans Maldivian Airways.[26]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

The seaplane terminal
An aircraft on approach to the runway
Aeroflot Moscow–Sheremetyevo
Air Astana Almaty[27]
Air France Paris–Charles de Gaulle[28]
Air India Mumbai, Thiruvananthapuram
Air Seychelles Mahé[29]
Austrian Airlines Seasonal: Vienna
Azur Air Seasonal charter: Moscow-Vnukovo[30]
Azur Air Ukraine Seasonal charter: Kyiv–Boryspil[31]
Blue Panorama Airlines Seasonal charter: Warsaw–Chopin[32]
British Airways Seasonal: London–Heathrow[33]
Condor Frankfurt
Edelweiss Air Seasonal: Zürich
Emirates Colombo–Bandaranaike, Dubai–International
Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi
Eurowings Discover Seasonal: Munich (begins 30 October 2022)[34]
flydubai Dubai–International[35]
Flyme Dharavandhoo, Gan, Maamigili
Go First[36] Seasonal: Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad,[37] Mumbai[38]
Gulf Air Bahrain, Colombo–Bandaranaike[39]
GullivAir Seasonal charter: Bucharest,[40] Sofia[41]
Iberia Seasonal: Madrid[42]
IndiGo Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kochi, Mumbai[43]
LOT Polish Airlines Seasonal charter: Katowice,[44] Prague,[45][46] Warsaw-Chopin
Lufthansa Frankfurt[47]
Luke Air Seasonal charter: Prague[48]
Maldivian Bangkok–Suvarnabhumi, Chennai, Colombo–Ratmalana, Dhaka,[49] Dharavandhoo, Fuvahmulah, Gan, Hambantota–Mattala, Hanimaadhoo, Hoarafushi, Kaadedhdhoo, Kadhdhoo, Kooddoo, Kulhudhuffushi,[50] Thimarafushi, Thiruvananthapuram
Seasonal: Kochi, Kuala Lumpur–International (begins 8 July 2022)[51]
Charter: Changsha, Chengdu–Shuangliu, Chongqing, Fuzhou, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Wuhan, Xi'an
Manta Air Dhaalu, Dharavandhoo, Gan, Maafaru
Neos Seasonal: Milan–Malpensa, Rome–Fiumicino, Verona
Qatar Airways Colombo–Bandaranaike, Doha
Royal Jordanian Seasonal charter: Amman-Queen Alia[52]
Sunday Airlines Seasonal charter: Almaty
Saudia Jeddah, Riyadh, Singapore
Singapore Airlines Singapore
SriLankan Airlines Colombo–Bandaranaike
Seasonal: London–Heathrow[53]
Turkish Airlines Istanbul4
Ukraine International Airlines Seasonal charter: Kyiv–Boryspil[54]
US-Bangla Airlines Dhaka[55]
Uzbekistan Airways Seasonal charter: Tashkent[56]
Vistara Mumbai[57]


  • 4: Turkish Airlines's flight from Istanbul to Colombo makes one stop in Malé. However, Turkish Airlines does not have fifth freedom rights to carry passengers solely from Malé to Colombo.


As of October 2019, SriLankan Airlines is the largest foreign carrier into the Maldives with over 21 flights a week. Bandaranaike International Airport in Sri Lanka is the most common direct stop out of the Maldives as it is served by SriLankan Airlines, Emirates, Korean Air, China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Oman Air and Saudia who operate a combined total of up to 10 flights daily between Sri Lanka and the Maldives.[58]

Incidents and accidents[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "There will be major changes to MACL: Nazim". Haveeru Daily. 8 December 2012. Archived from the original on 31 July 2013. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Tarring of Maldives main airport's new runway complete". The Edition. 26 August 2018. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  3. ^ a b Airport information for VRMM from DAFIF (effective October 2006)
  4. ^ Airport information for MLE at Great Circle Mapper. Source: DAFIF (effective October 2006).
  5. ^ from ICAO (effective June 2014)
  6. ^ "19 October 1960, Bristol Freighter, NZ5906, Hulule, First land-based aircraft to land at Hulule". Flickr. Steve Jenks. 19 October 1960. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  7. ^ a b "ARC". Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  8. ^ "Corporate". Archived from the original on 15 December 2013. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  9. ^ "Maldives' main airport renamed 'Velana International Airport'". 27 December 2016. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
  10. ^ "GMR offers Rf1 billion for Male airport". Haveeru Daily. 24 June 2010. Archived from the original on 28 June 2010.
  11. ^ "GMR – Press Release". Archived from the original on 15 December 2013. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  12. ^ "GMR to take over airport operations after advanced payment". Haveeru Daily. 26 September 2010. Archived from the original on 17 June 2011.
  13. ^ "President hopes 2011 budget will speed up development projects". Haveeru Daily. 13 December 2010. Archived from the original on 31 July 2013. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  14. ^ "Maldives cabinet passes to annul GMR agreement Maldives cabinet passes to annul GMR agreement". Haveeru Daily. 27 November 2012. Archived from the original on 31 July 2013. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  15. ^ "MACL will now operate the airport: Finance Minister". Haveeru Daily. 27 November 2012. Archived from the original on 31 July 2013. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  16. ^ Sharma, Rajeev (5 December 2012). "India, Maldives Row Over Airport Contract". The Diplomat.
  17. ^ "Maldives govt completes take over of airport from GMR". Haveeru Daily. 8 December 2012. Archived from the original on 31 July 2013. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  18. ^ "Velana International Airport opens new runway". 9 September 2018. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
  19. ^ a b c "Velena International Airport Expansion Project, Maldives". Airport Technology. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
  20. ^ "Maldives airport doubles capacity with new runway · Hotel Insider". Hotel Insider. 2 February 2022. Retrieved 20 May 2022.
  21. ^ "Velana International Airport has temporarily started using the new runway as a parallel taxiway". Routes. Retrieved 20 May 2022.
  22. ^ "MACL inaugurates seaplane terminal at Velana International Airport | CAPA - Centre for Aviation". Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  23. ^ "Foundation Work of VIA's New Passenger Terminal Completed". 17 December 2019. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
  24. ^ "Project Details | MACL". Retrieved 18 May 2020.
  25. ^ "Regulatory requirements for water aerodrome operations in the maldives" (PDF). ICAO. ICAO. 2 June 2014. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  26. ^ "Contact." Trans Maldivian Airways. Retrieved on 21 April 2015. "TRANS MALDIVIAN AIRWAYS (Pvt) Ltd. Ibrahim Nasir International Airport P.O. Box 2079 Malé Republic of Maldives"
  27. ^ "Collect Your Moments: Travel to Maldives". Air Astana. Retrieved 3 November 2020.
  28. ^ Air France adds Maldives service from Nov 2017 Routesonline. 9 February 2017.
  29. ^ Liu, Jim. "Air Seychelles plans to resume Maldives service in Dec 2020/Jan 2021". Routesonline. Retrieved 30 September 2020.
  30. ^ "Azur Air to charter Moscow Vnukovo-Maldives frequencies over New Year holidays". 22 September 2019. Retrieved 27 September 2019.
  31. ^ "Anex Tour". Retrieved 28 November 2020.
  32. ^ "Blue Panorama Airlines commences Warsaw-Male charter service". 20 June 2019. Retrieved 2 July 2019.
  33. ^ "British Airways - Timetables".
  34. ^ "Eurowings Discover fliegt ab München auf die Malediven". 15 February 2022.
  35. ^ Liu, Jim. "flydubai resumes Maldives service in from late-Oct 2020". Routesonline. Retrieved 29 September 2020.
  36. ^ "Budget airline GoAir rebrands as Go First". The Hindu. 13 May 2021 – via
  37. ^ "Go First - 404 Page not found". {{cite web}}: Cite uses generic title (help)
  38. ^ 25 Oct 2019 by Business Traveller India. "Go Air announces winter schedule for Malé – Business Traveller". Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  39. ^ "Gulf Air adds Maldives service from late-Oct 2019". Routesonline. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  40. ^ "Karpaten introduces the third charter flight from Bucharest to Maldives in January". 23 November 2020. Retrieved 23 November 2020.
  41. ^ "GullivAir Airlines".
  42. ^ "Iberia returns to the Maldives and Cali this winter season and increases frequencies throughout its network". 16 September 2021.
  43. ^ "IndiGo new flights". Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  44. ^ "Bilety lotnicze, bilety czarterowe i rejsowe, tanie loty krajowe i międzynarodowe - rezerwacja online | ITAKA".
  45. ^ "@flylot boeing 787 starts cooperation with @cdcedok. will operate flights to Maldives, Zanzibar and Dominican Republic". Archived from the original on 26 December 2021. Retrieved 27 October 2021.
  46. ^ "Tour schedule". Retrieved 27 October 2021.
  47. ^ "Lufthansa adds Mombasa / Zanzibar service; Maldives extends to year-round in NS21". Routesonline.
  48. ^ "Italy's Blue Panorama secures Čedok charter contract". Retrieved 27 May 2021.
  49. ^ "Maldivian begins flights to Mumbai, Chennai and Dhaka – Maldives Insider". 16 November 2012. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  50. ^ Liu, Jim. "Maldivian adds new domestic sectors in 4Q19". Routesonline. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  51. ^ "Maldivian Schedules Malaysia Service in July 2022". Retrieved 13 June 2022.
  52. ^ "Royal Jordanian adds Maldives scheduled charter in Sep/Oct 2019". Routesonline. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  53. ^ "SriLankan Airlines to launch Maldives-London flights". ch-aviation.
  54. ^ "UIA opening flights to Maldives". Ivanp-Frankivsk International Airport. Retrieved 28 November 2020.
  55. ^ Developer), Md Ashequl Morsalin Ibne Kamal(Team Leader)| Niloy Saha(Sr Web Developer)| Shohana Afroz(Web Developer)| Jobayer Hossain(Web. "US-Bangla to launch Dhaka-Male-Dhaka flights from Nov 19".
  56. ^ "Uzbekistan Airways launches charter flights to Maldives | "Uzbekistan airways" JSC". Uzbekistan Airways. Retrieved 6 December 2019.
  57. ^ "Vistara Flight Schedule". Retrieved 26 September 2021.
  58. ^ "CMB to MLE routes". Flightradar24. Retrieved 31 October 2019.
  59. ^ a b c "Maldives Civil Aviation Authority – 8Q-TMC Collision with Seawall". Retrieved 21 August 2013.

External links[edit]

Media related to Velana International Airport at Wikimedia Commons