Haa Dhaalu, also known as South Thiladhunmathi Atoll, is an enchanting paradise located approximately 320 km north of Malé City. This captivating administrative district comprises 38 picturesque islands, with 14 of them currently inhabited. One can explore the breathtaking beauty of this atoll while immersing themselves in its vibrant culture and natural wonders.
Among the gems of Haa Dhaalu Atoll are its two airports: Kulhudhuffushi, a dynamic domestic airport, and Hanimaadhoo, a bustling international airport. These gateways provide convenient access for both national and international visitors to embark on memorable journeys in this tropical haven.
Wide range of amenities
Kulhudhuffushi City serves as the vibrant economic capital of the atoll. It offers a wide range of amenities including a regional hospital, schools, bustling shops, and more. For generations, individuals from neighbouring islands have traversed the ocean to Kulhudhuffushi in pursuit of quality healthcare, education, and lucrative business opportunities. Before Kulhudhuffushi assumed its capital status, Nolhivaranfaru held the prestigious position until 1958, leaving behind a rich historical legacy.
The illustrious Hanimaadhoo airport was unveiled in 1990 during the presidency of Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom. It marked a significant milestone for the atoll. Initially developed as a domestic airport, it was later upgraded to an international capacity in 2013. Hanimaadhoo stands tall as the northernmost gateway to the Maldives. It embodies the essence of warm hospitality and serving as a vital hub for both locals and global travellers.
Kulhudhuffushi airport commenced operations in 2019. The absence of essential infrastructural components, most notably runway lights, has hindered its ability to cater to night flights. Despite celebrating its fourth anniversary, the journey towards achieving full functionality has been arduous and inefficient. Numerous challenges, including the lack of proper management, have plagued the airport’s progress. It was only in January of this year, nearly four years after its opening, that the airport was finally assigned a manager. Additionally, a proper baggage scanner was absent for nearly two years, forcing staff to resort to manual labour for baggage screening. This issue was only resolved in August 2022.
Speaking on the matter in 2022, Yasir Abdul Latheef, the Parliament Member for North Kulhudhuffushi, highlighted the poor coordination among government bodies in resolving the airport-related issues. He emphasised that despite Kulhudhuffushi housing the regional hospital, the majority of cases were referred to Malé, with only a small percentage being served by the Kulhudhuffushi airport. These challenges underscore the pressing need for comprehensive improvements and efficient collaboration in the region.
Although the authorities have installed temporary runway lights, they still require a permanent and sustainable solution. Originally scheduled for completion by August 2022, the project faced delays due to the disruptive impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Subsequently, the project encountered further setbacks as the corroded north seawall threatened to damage the valuable lighting infrastructure.
Despite the obstacles faced, the north is experiencing a resurgence in tourism, highlighting the immense potential of the region. The limitations of Hanimaadhoo Airport facilities have been a key factor impeding the growth of the tourism sector and overall economic development in the northern atolls. To address these challenges, the administration of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih launched an ambitious expansion project for Hanimaadhoo Airport. This visionary initiative entails the construction of a new 2,460-meter runway, capable of accommodating large aircraft, and the development of a modern terminal capable of serving 1.3 million passengers annually.
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