International firm Gulf Cobla will carry out the reclamation work on the five islands which will be destroyed for the project. They are next to the inhabited Faresmaathodaa island.
The reclamation work is to be completed within three months and costs more than US$2.5 million.
The airport is partly funded by a US$4 million interest-free loan from a Maldives tycoon.
An environmental impact assessment published in July warned of flood risks due to erosion and wave activity. It recommended a “no-project” option.
“The current design of the project leaves the beach on the oceanward side unprotected and it does not include a beach slope or an erosion buffer, making it likely to erode following reclamation,” it said.
The area has history of flooding, and it is possible the airport could become unusable from floods.
Yameen also announced that Kaadehdhoo airport in Gaafu Dhaal will be an international airport in the next three years, and pledged to boost tourism in Huvadhoo Atoll.
He has yet to submit his presidential candidacy papers, the deadline for which is August 10, and has not yet released a manifesto.