The Plaza Premium lounge was inaugurated today at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA), a step in GMR’s wide-scale renovation of the airport terminal.
The renovation, which began approximately 10 weeks ago, was designed by Hong Kong-based Premium Port Lounge Management Company Private Ltd. A message from company founder and CEO, Song Hoi See, indicated that the company was eager to design the project and “add more flights to Male.”
The Plaza Premium lounge was opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a reading from the Qur’an. Among the officials who cut the ribbon were Tourism Minister Maryam Zulfa and GMR CEO Andrew Harrison.
“This is a proud moment,” said Zulfa. “It is sad that some of the resorts and institutions in the Maldives do not measure up to the standards of our premium customers. I am happy that GMR is setting an example for the Maldives as it moves forward.”
Zulfa, who arrived today from an international flight, described some fellow passengers who called a baggage delay “typical.”
“I said, ‘No, this is not typical. This is atypical. Because GMR is now taking care of us.’ It was a relief to know that a negative experience was not typical of how our airport works.”
Baggage beltways were recently expanded, while eight check-in counters and two security lanes are being added. “We are de-bottlenecking departures, and things are running smoothly,” said GMR Chief Commerical Officer Prasad Gopalan.
Gopalan said the airport had seen an even higher increase in traffic this year than expected. “There is more traffic from Asia, and we are expecting Russian traffic to increase as well.”
Harrison said the renovation process had informed GMR of the higher standards that travelers now hold. He noted that washrooms and check-in counters were being refurbished “to make it a more ‘Maldives’ welcome for travelers,” and added that former staff had been re-trained to meet premium standards.
The lounge is open to first and business class passengers, and to economy class passengers for an undetermined fee. Services include a buffet and a la carte menu, computer and internet access, television, and spa-style foot rubs.
Harrison told Minivan News that “the quality of this lounge is a commitment to the quality of airport that the Maldives and its visitors can expect to see in the future. Even though this lounge is an asset with a short shelf life, it is appropriate that we demonstrate what the new terminal should be like.”
The new terminal at INIA is expected to be completed over the next three years, and will have a capacity of 5 million.
The renovation’s estimated cost is US$1 million. More renovations will be completed before the tourism peak season of November and December.