Malé International Airport (IATA: MLE, ICAO: VRMM), formerly known as Hulhulé Airport, is the main international airport in the Maldives. It is located on Hulhulé Island in the North Malé Atoll, near the capital island Malé.
Malé was the Maldives' only international airport until the upgrading of Gan to international standard. Though the upgrading of Gan International Airport has been completed, regular international flight operations have yet to commence.
Today, Malé International is well connected with major airports around the world, mostly because it serves as the main gateway into the tourism phenomenon that is Maldives. In early 2010, the government began considering privatizing the airport in order to develop it further. On the 15th July 2010, the airport was privatized following a concession agreement between GMR Group, India and Malaysia Airports Berhad (MAHB).
The airport opened on April 12, 1966, and was officially inaugurated under its new name on November 11, 1981. It was managed financially and administratively by an independent corporate entity known as Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL), which is governed by a Board of Directors appointed by the President. MACL will continue to manage Male' International until November 2010, when management will be transferred to the GMR-MAHB consortium.
Male' International first started out as a small strip of land in the then inhabited island of Hulhule'. Hulhule' Airport was opened on 19th October 1960. The first runway built on Hulhulé Island was made of slotted steel sheets. The dimension of this runway was 75 x 3000 feet. The first aircraft, which landed at the airport, was a Royal New Zealand Air Force Transport plane on 19th of October 1960 at 13:55hrs. The first commercial flight was an Air Ceylon flight (4R0ACJ) landed on this runway was at 15:50hrs on 10th April 1962. The first aircraft owned by the Maldives landed on the runway of the Hulhulé Airport on 9th October 1974.
In May 1964, the government and the people of Male' worked together to construct a new asphalt runway. The work was carried out in a competitive atmosphere with the competition between the four districts of Male', the fastest district winning prize money of Rufiyaa 1000/-. On the first day itself 108 volunteers were enlisted for the project and 1563.08 Maldivian Rufiya were donated. The government received whole hearted support from the Maldivian people – both financially and material wise.
The asphalt runway constructed by the hard work of Maldivians was opened on 12th April 1966 at 16:00hrs by the former president His Excellency Mr. Ibrahim Nasir.
Upgrade to Male' International Airport
When the tourism industry in the Maldives began in 1972, the country was in need of an international standard airport to transport tourists to the resort islands. So, on November 11, 1981, the airport was officially inaugurated under the new name of "Male' International Airport". The airport was inagurated by the then-president His Excellency Uz. Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom.
Maldives Airports Company Ltd (MACL)
As the airport started hosting frequent and numerous flights, the need for a corporate entity to manage the airport was realized. Thus, Maldives Airports Company Ltd. (MACL) was formed on January 1, 1994 and is the financially and administratively independent corporate entity that manages the airport. MACL is governed by the Board of Directors appointed by the President of the Maldives.
Privatization of the airport
On the 20th June 2010, the government opened a bidding ceremony for private companies who wanted to manage and develop Male' International Airport. Out of 3 international consortium bids including Flughafen Zürich AG-GVK Industries Ltd. and TAV Airport Holidings-Aéroports de Paris, the bid was won by the consortium between GMR Group and Malaysia Airports who provided Rufiyaa 1 Billion upfront to the government for the lease of the airport.
On 28th July 2010, a public-private partnership in managing the airport was signed between the Maldivian government and officials of GMR Group and Malaysia Airports, leasing the airport to the consortium for 25 years. The consortium's aim is to develop MIA into a global standard airport by the year 2014.
More than 1200 employees from Maldives Airports Company Ltd (MACL) will be transferred to the new company formed by GMR-MAHB consortium, who will take charge of the airport starting from November 2010. After this transfer, MACL will only be responsible for Air Traffic Control, Aviation Security Command and some smaller offices. All other departments that MACL was managing previously will be transferred to the new company.
The airport resides at an elevation of 6 feet (2 m) above mean sea level. It has one runway designated 18/36 with an asphalt surface measuring 3,200 by 45 metres (10,499 × 148 ft).
SriLankan Airlines is the largest foreign carrier into Maldives with 23 flights a week.
Airlines and destinations
Incidents and accidents
To alleviate congestion, redvelopment of the old Malé International Airport has begun; a new international terminal has been built adding four more gates and more facilities (built with the help of the Saudi Arabia government), the construction of a new runway is going to start soon, and the airport's size is to be increased by joining the Hulhumalé and Hulhule islands.
Furthermore, a regional airport for all domestic flights has been built to alleviate Malé International.
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The content above was published at Airports-Worldwide.com in 2010.
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