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Maldives reveals plans for airport expansion and new island bridge

The Maldives has unveiled plans for a new bridge between the island housing its international airport and its capital city Male, that will be completed in mid-2018. The archipelago is also expanding its airport and will open a new runway for jumbo jets next year, followed by a new passenger terminal in 2019/20.

Maldives reveals plans for airport expansion and new island bridge

The Maldives has announced plans to expand its Velana International Airport to accommodate more planes and passengers, as well as the building of a new "friendship bridge" linking the airport island, Hulhule, to the country’s capital Male. The popular Indian Ocean beach holiday destination will open the new bridge and a new airport runway capable of handling jumbo jets in mid-2018.

The China-Maldives Friendship Bridge project, which was launched in 2015, is the first of its kind in the Maldives. It will be 1.4 kilometres long and 20 metres wide, linking Male’s eastern edge to the western corner of the island of Hulhule, where Velana International Airport is located. It will provide two lanes for four-wheeled vehicles as well as separate lanes for bicycles, motorcycles, and pedestrians.

Construction of the bridge began in 2016 and following its completion in mid-2018, the bridge will help to improve inter-island transport and economic development in the region by providing a reliable land connection for locals and holidaymakers between the capital Male, the airport, and the new youth city Hulhumale.

In time for the bridge opening, the airport will open a new runway. At 3,400 metres long and 60-metres wide, it will be able to accommodate the world’s largest passenger airliner – the Airbus A380 – and will likely increase airlift to the Maldives. Once completed, the existing runway will be used as a taxiway, reducing the turnaround time of aircrafts at the airport.

Work on a new passenger terminal for Velana International Airport is currently underway and is expected to be complete by 2019-20. Formerly known as Ibrahim Nasir International, the airport was rebranded earlier this year.

The Maldives’ Attorney General Mohamed Anil made the announcements at this year’s World Travel Market in London. He said the new developments in the Maldives will support the increasing demand for tourism to the island nation.

The UK continues to be an important inbound market for the Maldives with 68,007 UK tourists visiting the country from January – August 2017. This figure accounts for 7.6% of all tourists visiting the archipelago and is the second highest share across all inbound markets for the first half of 2017. 

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