Atoll Development

Opening the Gateway to Development

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For a plant to grow into a tree, it is vital to feed and nurture it – to let it grow until it gives off that shade under which you can stand for shelter during the afternoon sun. Sowing the seeds of development is no different! Once planted, they must be nourished and nurtured with care. No infrastructure can benefit generations of people unless maintained regularly and upgraded frequently. The development of Gan International Airport in Addu City is a classic example. The processes by which the government has brought this critical piece of infrastructure to its current state is worthy of analysis.

As part of  the government’s efforts to make the airport truly international in capacity and service standards, several projects have taken place at the airport, the most prominent being the expansion of their runway. The existing runway of 2,651 meters has been extended by a further 3,400 meters, making it the longest runway in the Maldives with a total length of 6,051 meters. The expansion of the runway is expected to bring in international flights from various parts of the world, and possibly begin scheduled and charter flights between Gan and several global destinations. The upgrading work also included the renewal of the runway, making it smoother, safer and easier than before. In addition to the lengthening, the runway has also been widened by 60 meters, allowing it to cater for larger international flights, including wide-bodied Boeing 777s and Airbus A-380s. Prior to the upgrade works, Gan International Airport catered to Boeing 757, A-320 and A-327.

The development of Gan International Airport came at a cost of around $45 million. The project has been completed in three phases, the last of which including the acquisition of new hardware for air traffic and ground handling improvements. In addition to the runway, the airport itself has received some notable additions! The start of seaplane operations in Addu will be a first, with a specially-developed base for its operations out of Gan. Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA) is set to begin operations of their flights in Addu making it the first time seaplane services would be available in Addu on this scale. TMA boasts the world’s largest seaplane fleet with 46 planes. Their operations of carrying tourists from Ibrahim Nasir International Airport to various destinations – about 63 – has lead them to operate an average of 120,000 yearly flights catering to almost a million passengers every year.

TMA has won “Indian Ocean’s Leading Seaplane Operator” for three years running, as well as “World’s Leading Seaplane Operator” for two consecutive years in 2014 and 2015.

These additions to Gan International Airport are bound to make it more connected to the world – and to the capital Male’  – opening the gateway for development in the most southern atoll of the Maldives.

  • Total length of runway is 6km
  • Runway widened by 60 meters
  • Total investment of $45 million
  • Capable of catering to larger planes
  • 960 meters of land reclaimed for runway expansion

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