The government has commissioned the Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC) to conduct surveys and an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for a proposed airport development project on Nilandhoo Island, Faafu Atoll. This decision comes on the heels of the near completion of a similar airport development project on Magoodhoo Island, located a mere eight kilometres from Nilandhoo.

The project includes land reclamation and coastal protection of the proposed airport site, according to the Ministry of Construction and Infrastructure. Infrastructure Minister Dr Abdulla Muththalib announced at the contract signing ceremony that the physical works for the airport development project are slated to commence before the end of the year.

In an interview with a local media outlet, Dr Muththalib clarified that the project is being executed under the ministry’s mandate and is incorporated into this year’s infrastructure budget. He acknowledged the proximity of Magoodhoo and Nilandhoo, separated by a 15-minute speedboat ride, adding that the the decision regarding the airport’s location was made by the housing ministry.

The concept of developing an airport on Nilandhoo was initially proposed during the tenure of former President Abdul Yameen Abdul Gayoom. The design work for the project was also prepared during his term. However, the previous administration, led by former President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, initiated the development of an airport on Magoodhoo Island. This project, which includes private jet handling services, would cost MVR 230 million.

The Magoodhoo Airport project, which includes extending the runway to 1,800 metres, is currently underway with several other components. These include the completion of the fire building, the structural work of the passenger terminal, the development of a private jet parking area and jet fuel farm, and a hotel for the crew of private jets.

The airport will be operated by Regional Airports Company Ltd., which confirmed in November 2023 that all development works were progressing as per schedule and that the airport is expected to be operational this January.