Committee to look into delays in utilizing VIA's new runway

The Parliament's Committee on State-owned Enterprises will be looking into the delays in utilizing Velana International Airport (VIA)'s new runway.

China's Beijing Urban Construction Group (BUCG) constructed VIA's new runway under a USD 373 million loan assistance from the China EXIM Bank. The 3,400-meter long, 60-meter wide runway was completed and opened on September 5, 2018, during former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom's administration. While several years have passed since then, it has not been used as a runway to date. Instead, MACL began using the runway as a taxiway earlier this month.

The SOE committee will be sending a letter to the airport's operator, Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL), to find the reasons behind the delay in utilizing the runway for its intended purpose.

Speaking at a committee sitting held Tuesday, Dhidhdhoo MP Abdulla Waheed said using the new runway had been delayed significantly and that the public has lodged complaints regarding the matter. Therefore, the reasons for the delay must be identified, he said.

Speaking to AVAS, an official from MACL had previously said using the new runway as a taxiway would minimize heavy traffic at the airport and can accommodate up to 16 aircraft simultaneously. The capacity prior to using the runway was eight aircraft at a time.

The government had previously said the delays in utilizing the new runway were due to a building in the area not being relocated.