The government has returned Kaadehdhoo regional airport to Gasim Ibrahim’s Villa Air 38 days after terminating the contract with the tourism ministry.
Speaking to local news outlet Vnews, Managing Director Rilwan Shareef of Villa Air said that the airport had been handed back to the company by the government on Thursday (September 19).
Kaadehdhoo Airport, which is leased out to Villa for fifty years to develop and manage the airport, was taken by the government last month after it cited a breach of the agreement on Villa’s side.
The Villa Group – founded by Jumhooree Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim – suffered adversely from a number of government decisions last month just as Gasim attempted to stall President Abdulla Yameen’s flagship Special Economic Zones Act.
President Yameen denied the setbacks for Villa had been politically motivated after the JP alleged that both these decisions and subsequent death threats received by Gasim had come from political opponents.
The handing back of Kaadehdhoo Airport comes within a week of the reinstatement of Maamigili Airport, also under the management of Villa Air, as an international airport after it was downgraded to domestic status due to security concerns.
A nearby island which was leased out to the Villa Group for agricultural purposes was also taken by the government at the same time as the airport.