President Mohamed Muizzu, in a Presidential Decree, has established economic policy to establish an additional nine airports across the Maldives.

The policy announcement comes 24 days before the 2024 Parliamentary Elections, with Maldivians set to go to the polls on 21 April, shortly after the end of Ramadan.

Muizzu’s decree overrides the policy established by former President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in August 2023 and effectively amends several government projects, with other projects set to be omitted altogether.

With this presidential action the project to upgrade the domestic airport at Dhaalu Airport, on the island of Kudahuvadhoo in Dhaalu (Dh) Atoll, to international standards as well as efforts to develop an airport in Vaavu (V) Atoll have been effectively scrapped.

According to the decree, new airports will now be established at;

IslandAtoll (Abbreviation)
Dhihdhoo Haa Alifu (HA)
DhiguveliShaviyani (Sh)
MilandhooShaviyani (Sh)
VihafaruNoonu (N)
FainuRaa (R)
MathivariAlifu Alifu (AA)
NilandhooFaafu (F)
GuraidhooThaa (Th)
MaalhendhooGaafu Alifu (GA)

The declared development at the island of ‘GA. Maalhendhoo’ has, however, raised eyebrows as no naturally occurring island in GA atoll is named ‘Maalhendhoo’, and the island is not listed as being in GA Atoll on the ‘Atolls of Maldives‘ website.

“There is no island called Maalhendhoo in Gaafu Alifu,” GA Atoll Council President Ibrahim Shaheen confirmed in a message to local media.

There is a Maalhendhoo island in Noonu (N) Atoll, which is an inhabited island.

According to local media sources, construction of an airport at Maarandhoo, an island which is in GA atoll, was discussed at the Invest Maldives Forum in Dubai, however, the island is currently leased to a Chinese company, Maarandhoo Investment, for tourism development and remains 30 percent completed, with work having suspended after the Covid-19 pandemic.

The president has also decided to establish one more airport, in addition to Kadhdhoo Airport, in Laamu (L) Atoll.

Airports currently under development include those at;

IslandAtoll (Abbreviation)
MakunudhooHaa Dhaalu (HDh)
AlifushiRaa (R)
MuliMeemu (M)
BillehfahiShaviyani (Sh)
ThinadhooBaa (B)
VilufushiThaa (Th)

Meanwhile development, as specific projects, will continue at many existing airports including at;

IslandAtoll (Abbreviation)Airport Designation
GanSeenu Atoll (S)Gan International Airport
FunadhooShaviyani (Sh)Funadhoo Airport
DharavandhooBaa (B)Dharavandhoo Airport
KulhuduffushiHaa Dhaalu (HDh)Kulhuduffushi Airport
FuvahmulahGnaviyani (Gn)Fuvahmulah Airport
MaavaruluGaafu Dhaalu (GDh)Maavarulu Airport
VillingiliGaafu Alifu (GA)Villingili Airport

The administration, according to local media reports, has awarded the investment appraisal of the Villingili Airport project to Basics; a Belgian company.

The presidential decree, in addition to airport developments, includes ‘coastal tourism projects’ in Addu Atoll (Seenu Atoll) and Laamu (L) Atoll.