President Abdulla Yameen inaugurated Monday the expanded Kooddoo airport in Gaaf Alif atoll and opened the Mercure Maldives Kooddoo Hotel on the southern island.
The runway of the privately-managed airport was lengthened from 1,200 to 1,800 meters to accommodate the Airbus A320, the Boeing 737, and private jets such as the Bombardier Global 5000. A new VIP lounge and two staff accommodation blocks were also part of the upgrading project.
The airport was constructed by a local subsidiary of Keong Hong, a Singaporean developer that built the Kooddoo hotel in a joint venture deal. Managed by France’s Accor group, the mid-range Mercure Maldives has 43 over-water and 25 beach villas.
The resort hotel is the first in the Maldives to be developed with water villas on an airport island.
Describing the airport as “a gateway to the southern atolls”, Ronald Leo, chairman and chief executive officer of Keong Hong, said the group intends to “keep improving facilities at the airport to meet future demand.”
“As a hotel owner and investor, we are attracted by Maldives’ one-island-one-resort concept and its rich marine biodiversity, endless sunshine and the warmth of its people,” he said.
“We are already looking forward to the opening of our second hotel property in Maldives, the luxurious 120-villa Pullman Maldives Maamutaa Resort in 2019.”
After a grand opening ceremony featuring fireworks, the joint venture owner of the hotel, Pristine Islands Investment Maldives, and local partner, Hotels and Resorts Construction, signed a memorandum of understanding with the tourism ministry to create 1,000 training and employment opportunities for youth in the southern atoll.