Velana International Airport
Velana International Airport
|Owner||Government of Maldives|
|Operator||Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL)|
|Elevation AMSL||6 ft / 1 m|
Velana International Airport (IATA: MLE, ICAO: VRMM), also known as Malé International Airport, previously known as Ibrahim Nasir International Airport, is the main international airport in the Maldives. It is located on Hulhulé Island in the North Malé Atoll, nearby the capital island Malé. Today, 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).
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. The dimensions of this runway were 75 ft × 3,000 ft (23 m × 914 m). The first aircraft which landed at the airport was a Royal New Zealand Air Force Transport plane on 19 October 1960 at 13:55hrs. The first commercial flight was an Air Ceylon flight (4R0ACJ) 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.
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 rufiya was donated. The new runway was opened on 12 April 1966 at 16:00 by President Ibrahim Nasir.
Upgrade to Malé International Airport
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 Male' International Airport. MACL is governed by the board of directors appointed by the President of the Maldives.
Privatisation of the airport
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 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 license of the airport to the newly formed GMR Malé International Airport Ltd (GMIAL). 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 3 separate bridged buildings. Plans for a separate cargo terminal was also announced. However, the project faced numerous delays.
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.
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 7 days to 'evict the airport', a decision which drew mass protests from the government's opposition, as well as criticism from the government and media of India. On 7 December, GMR handed over the airport to the government, and MACL was reinstated as the operator.
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. On 18 September 2018, the airport opened a new runway.
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 3 Code E MARS stands, 2 dedicated Code E stands and 1 dedicated Code C stand.
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). 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. Runway NL is takeoff only and runway SR is landing only due to proximities to flying restricted areas.
The airport has 3 terminals. They are the International Terminal, the Domestic Terminal and the waterdrome Seaplane Terminal.
Airlines and destinations
- 1: China Eastern Airlines's flight from Malé to Kunming makes one stop in Colombo.
- 2: China Southern Airlines's flight from Malé to Guangzhou makes one stop in Colombo.
- 3: Korean Air's flight from Malé to Seoul makes one stop in Colombo.
- 4: Turkish Airlines's flight from Istanbul to Bandaranaike International Airport (Colombo) makes one stop in Velana International Airport (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 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.
Incidents and accidents
- On 18 October 1995 an Air Maldives Dornier 228 abruptly turned right, left the runway, struck the seawall and somersaulted into the adjacent lagoon while landing. The plane was written off.
- On 15 August 1996 a Hummingbird Helicopters MIL Mi-8P lost control after takeoff due to the non-availability of hydraulic pressure. 4 people received minor injuries.
- On 17 May 2004 a Trans Maldivian Airways, de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter Series 300 collided with the sea-wall of runway 18 after experiencing problems taking off from the seaplane base. Both pilots and one passenger were seriously injured in the accident. The aircraft was written off.
- "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.
- "Tarring of Maldives main airport's new runway complete". The Edition. 26 August 2018. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
- Airport information for VRMM from DAFIF (effective October 2006)
- Airport information for MLE at Great Circle Mapper. Source: DAFIF (effective October 2006).
-  from ICAO (effective June 2014)
- "ARC". Airports.com.mv. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
- "Corporate". Airports.com.mv. Archived from the original on 15 December 2013. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
- "GMR offers Rf1 billion for Male airport". Haveeru Daily. 24 June 2010. Archived from the original on 28 June 2010.
- "GMR – Press Release". Gmrgroup.in. Archived from the original on 15 December 2013. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
- "GMR to take over airport operations after advanced payment". Haveeru Daily. 26 September 2010. Archived from the original on 17 June 2011.
- "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.
- "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.
- "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.
- "India, Maldives Row Over Airport Contract". The Diplomat.
- "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.
- "Maldives' main airport renamed 'Velana International Airport' | Maldives Independent". maldivesindependent.com. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
- "Regulatory requirements for water aerodrome operations in the maldives" (PDF). ICAO. ICAO. 2 June 2014. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
- "Contact." Trans Maldivian Airways. Retrieved on April 21, 2015. "TRANS MALDIVIAN AIRWAYS (Pvt) Ltd. Ibrahim Nasir International Airport P.O. Box 2079 Male’ Republic of Maldives"
- Air France adds Maldives service from Nov 2017 Routesonline. 9 February 2017.
- "Air Italy: on sale the winter season 2019/20 schedule". Air Italy: on sale the winter season 2019/20 schedule. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
- "Air Italy resumes Maldives service in late-Oct 2019". Routesonline. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
- Alitalia adds Milan – Male service from Nov 2018 Routesonline. 11 May 2018.
- "agenparl Resources and Information". Agenparl.com. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
- "Azur Air to charter Moscow Vnukovo-Maldives frequencies over New Year holidays". centreforaviation.com. 22 September 2019. Retrieved 27 September 2019.
- "Blue Panorama Airlines commences Warsaw-Male charter service". centreforaviation.com. 20 June 2019. Retrieved 2 July 2019.
- "China Southern adds Sri Lanka service from Sep 2017". routesonline. Retrieved 28 July 2017.
- 25 Oct 2019 by Business Traveller India. "Go Air announces winter schedule for Malé – Business Traveller". Businesstraveller.com. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
- "Gulf Air adds Maldives service from late-Oct 2019". Routesonline. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
- "IndiGo new flights". goindigo.com. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
- "Korean Air begins scheduled flights to the Maldives – Maldives Insider". Retrieved 14 June 2019.
- "Maldivian begins flights to Mumbai, Chennai and Dhaka – Maldives Insider". Retrieved 14 June 2019.
- "Royal Jordanian adds Maldives scheduled charter in Sep/Oct 2019". Routesonline. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
- "SpiceJet Maldives service changes from late-Nov 2019". Routesonline. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
- Liu, Jim. "Thai Eastar Jet outlines preliminary network in W19". Routesonline. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
- "CMB to MLE routes". Flightradar24. Retrieved 31 October 2019.
- "Maldives Civil Aviation Authority – 8Q-TMC Collision with Seawall". Aviainfo.gov.mv. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
Media related to Malé International Airport at Wikimedia Commons