Hanimaadhoo International Airport, operated by the Regional Airports Company Ltd. (RACL), has recommenced international operations after a year-long suspension due to the ongoing airport expansion project.

Despite the nature of the project, RACL initially planned to continue uninterrupted international services. However, the exigencies of the project, which required alterations to the airport’s operational hours, inevitably led to the suspension of international operations, the company said. This strategic decision was taken to expedite the progression of the expansion project.

The expansion project, which is currently in progress, involves building a new runway. Initiated in January 2023, the runway development forms a crucial component of the airport’s redevelopment plan. The runway is being developed in two phases, the first of which involved building a 1,200-metre section.

Of the total 2,465-metre runway envisaged under the project, the 1,200-metre section has been successfully completed and operationalised as of 12 April. RACL anticipates the completion of the remaining runway construction by the end of this month.

With the resumption of international operations, Hanimaadhoo International Airport is now slated to operate two international flights per week, specifically on Fridays and Mondays. Ahmed Mubeen, the Managing Director of RACL, has expressed confidence in completing the airport expansion project by the end of November, paving the way for the full-fledged operation of the airport.

Mubeen highlighted that the existing runway could accommodate aircraft with a capacity of 150 seats. However, upon completion, the runway would be equipped to handle larger aircraft capable of carrying between 250 and 300 passengers.

The runway upgrades include an additional 700 meters, a commitment made by President Mohamed Muizzu during his initial days in office. In tandem with the airport development, the Muizzu administration plans to develop 9,000 tourism beds to bolster the region’s economy.

The project to expand the Hanimaadhoo International Airport commenced on 18 January 2023 under the former administration. It is one of the most significant infrastructure development projects initiated outside the Malé region.

The project is financed through an MVR 2.1 billion loan from the Exim Bank of India, which was awarded to JMC Projects, an Indian firm. The terminal, part of this expansion, is designed to accommodate 1.3 million passengers annually.