Tourism and transportation are the basis of the Maldivian economy, says Vice President Faisal Naseem.
The Vice President made this remark while speaking at the commencement ceremony of Velana International Airport's (VIA) new runway and the 'Noovilu Seaplane Terminal', on Wednesday.
In his speech, the Vice President emphasized on the importance of VIA to the Maldivian people. He described the airport as the main economic hub of the Maldives and noted that it was one of the state's most valuable assets.
The Vice President went on to note that VIA was being developed in accordance with the master plan of the airport.
Highlighting some of the operational details of the new runway, fuel farm, passenger terminals, as well as the seaplane terminal at the airport, VP Naseem noted that the airport's operations and services ran uninterrupted, despite the tremendous development project.
Additionally, the Vice President spoke about the importance of the seaplane terminal.
As such, VP Naseem highlighted that, once the tourists disembark from their international flights, they board the seaplanes to reach their destinations.
Noting that the Maldives’ seaplane fleet makes approximately 600 flights a day, the Vice President stated that the new seaplane terminal would drastically improve the operations and the customer experience.
Moreover, Vice President Naseem in his speech noted the need for human development to be carried out in conjunction with airport development. He went on to elaborate on the government's initiatives to upgrade transport networks across the Maldives’ atolls.
The first flight to land on the new runway was an Emirates aircraft that landed at 7:20am. The aircraft was greeted with a water salute. With the operationalization of the new runway, the old runway would be used as a taxiway.
The new runway at VIA is 3,400 meters long and 65 meters wide.
With the opening of the new runway, the number of planes landing and departing the main international airport will increase from eight to 20 per hour, which will resolve flight delays by reducing the time required to vacate the runway.
In addition to the new runway, the Noovilu Seaplane Terminal, which was also opened on Wednesday, is the largest seaplane terminal in the world.
The construction of the seaplane terminal and the new runway was contracted to China's Beijing Urban Construction Group.