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New runway construction begins at Maldives international airport

The 80mm AC25 asphalt concrete surface is expected to be completed within a month, according to the state-owned Maldives Airports Company Ltd.  



Work began Wednesday on laying the first asphalt layer for Velana International Airport’s new runway.

Briefing the press at the runway construction site, Adil Moosa, managing director of the state-owned Maldives Airports Company Ltd, said the 80mm AC25 asphalt concrete surface is expected to be completed within a month.

“We’ve been able to carry forward the runway project as planned. It will be completed with two further layers in this year’s last quarter,” he was quoted as saying by Mihaaru.

The 3,400-meter-long, 60-meter-wide runway will open the airport to the Airbus A380 jetliner, the world’s largest passenger airline, Adil previously said.

The US$400 million runway project was awarded to China’s Beijing Urban Construction Group as part of ambitious plans to upgrade the country’s main international airport. The Chinese construction giant will also build a fuel farm with a storage capacity of 45 million litres and a cargo complex with the capacity to handle 120,000 tonnes.

Reclamation work to expand the airport island by some 62 hectares was subcontracted to the Dubai-based Gulf Cobla.

The Maldivian government secured a US$373 million concessionary loan from the Chinese EXIM Bank in December 2015 for the runway project. Loan agreements worth US$200 million have also been signed with the Saudi Fund for Development, the Kuwait Fund and the OPEC Fund to finance the airport expansion.

A contract was signed with the Saudi Binladin Group in May 2015 to build a new passenger terminal for an undisclosed amount.

Both the opposition and international financial institutions have warned that the Maldives is facing a high risk of debt distress due to Chinese lending for an unprecedented infrastructure scale-up, which also includes the US$200 million China-Maldives Friendship Bridge to connect the capital to the Hulhulé airport island.

Photo: MACL