Hanimaadhoo Airport will be run by Maldivians, no foreign military: President Solih

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih meeting with Hanimaadhoo Council | photo: Mabrook Azeez

Malé, Maldives – President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on Sunday stated that the Airport currently under development in Hanimaadhoo, Haa Dhaalu Atoll will be run by locals and that there will be no foreign military presence in the area.

The President met with community members of Hanimaadhoo to gather public opinion on the Hanimaadhoo Airport development project as several concerns were raised by the public regarding the project. The meeting took place at the Barefoot Eco Hotel on the island.

President Solih reiterated that no foreign soldiers would be stationed at the airport premise, stating that his government would not allow any action that may affect the nation’s sovereignty and added that he does not believe any future government will allow it either.

In response to the community’s concerns, President Solih revealed that the land had been allotted for Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) to move its entire Northern Command to Hanimaadhoo island, as it would be more convenient to guard the northern territories and the seas of the Maldives from there.

Additionally, he addressed the concerns raised by the Hanimaadhoo Island Council and Women’s Development Committee (WDC) members, affirming that the International Airport development project would be vital to the advancement of the entire Boduthiladhunmathi region’s economy and tourism industry. However, the President said, the council and residents of the island would need to cooperate and provide support for each other if the project is to bear fruit.

During this meeting, the President shared the latest details of the projects being carried out by the government. He said that the government had earmarked a 100-housing unit project on the island to resolve residents’ housing deficits, adding that it was planned to be included in the upcoming year’s budget. He further stated that the construction of the 30-bed hospital is now at the pre-bidding phase.

Three local associations from Hanimaadhoo previously requested President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to prevent taking additional land for the development of the airport as requested by the Planning Ministry. In their letter to President Solih, the associations wrote that the land already dedicated for the project was sufficient for the development of a large airport. While there is a huge lagoon area, taking more land from the residential areas was deeply concerning.

They added that the seashore area, allocated for airport development in the current plans, was an important place for their locals as families go out for swims and other activities, hence it was saddening that the area was being given for airport development.

The scope of the project includes redeveloping Hanimaadhoo International Airport which includes major infrastructure and operational development in the airside, landside and building infrastructure to meet the future growth of traffic to the Maldives and maintain International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards.

The existing Runway will be extended to 2460 meters from the current 1350 meter and a total apron of an approximate area of 58,000 Sqm has been designed to cater to operations at the Airport.

Moreover, two Taxiways have also been proposed with a length of 164 meters each and a width of 34 meters including 5.5meter wide shoulders on each side.

The proposed Two-Level Passenger Terminal Building of modular design will have all modern facilities and amenities to handle peak hour passenger capacity. It will have an area of 10,230 sqm including land/seaside connectivity and passenger facilitation. The building shall have aesthetically appealing & soothing modern interiors incorporating Maldivian art and heritage.

The Passenger Terminal is designed to handle Code C aircraft operations once complete and the proposed multi-level Jetty Terminal Building leads into Jetties for parking for Sea Planes and Anchorage for Ferries. The scope also includes other facilities including blast pad, airside periphery r, basic strip and grading area, isolation bay, security fencing and watchtowers, navigational aids, cargo building, fuel farm, a fuel jetty, hangar block, ATC tower, desalination plant, sewage treatment plants, ancillary building, crash gates, and, jetties while no reclamation is proposed for Phase I.

Hanimaadhoo International Airport would be by far the most expensive airport to be built in a northern atoll of the Maldives. This airport is likely to enhance the businesses of the atolls in the north.