The Transport Ministry has stated that Maafaru International Airport currently lacks the capacity to land large aircrafts at the airport.
Officials from the Transport Ministry were questioned by the Parliament's Government Oversight Committee regarding an estimated date on which international flights can begin landing at the airport.
In response to the inquiry, State Minister of the Transport Ministry, Mohamed Zuhair said Maafaru Airport is not 'fully international' and that it does not currently have the capacity to accomodate international flights. The current permit issued to the airport to be operated as an international airport is a temporary permit, and several requirements are yet to be fulfilled at the airport, said the minister.
While immigration and custom services need to be upgraded, arrangements are yet to be to offer services separately to domestic and international travelers, noted the minister. The airport can cater to 100 passengers at this time, and a larger capacity is required to offer services to international flights, said Zuhair.
Zuhair further noted that fueling services must be available at international airports as well as an equipped medical facility that can provide emergency medical services. All international airlines will conduct a special audit to ensure these objectives are fulfilled at the airport before commencing flights to the destination, he added.
"There is no use of the airport if aircrafts landing at Maafaru International Airport have to go elsewhere to refuel," said Zuhair.
While the Maafaru Airport expansion project is underway, the decision to upgrade the airport to a 'fully international' airport lies with the airport operator, said Zuhair. Island Aviation Services company which operates the airport said they aim to increase the airport's capacity to be able to land Boeing 777 twin jets.
Maafaru Airport was developed under a US$ 60 million grant extended by the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The airport boasts a 2,200 meter long and 40 meter wide runway that can land the largest aircrafts in the world, Airbus A320 and Boeing 737.