Airport architecture and engineering firm ADPI has unveiled new images of the design for Male’ International Airport, which is being developed by Indian infrastructure giant GMR.
The existing terminal is being upgraded before the construction of a new terminal on the opposite side of the island of Hulhule, which the developer has pledged to complete in 2014.
As well as being a visually dramatic structure on the skyline, the new airport will include various sustainability initiatives such as seawater air-conditioning.
Ultimately the development will involve 45,000 square metres of new terminal, repair and expansion of the runway, parking and taxiing space, and a turning point so more flights can be landed in the space of an hour.
The infrastructure giant’s ‘brownfields’ approach – refurbishing an active airport, as opposed to a ‘greenfields’ or ‘from scratch’ project – mirrors that of its much larger airport development in Dehli. The old terminal was upgraded prior to the opening of the new one last week, which is now expected to cater to 90 percent of the airport’s passengers, with capacity of 34 million per annum upgradable to 100 million.
At over US$400 million the project is the largest single foreign investment ever made in the Maldives and has run into political controversy, including persistent allegations from opposition parties that there was corruption in the bidding process, and several referrals to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).
“There has been no formal communication [with the ACC], and we are extremely confident of standing up to any scrutiny because of the way the bid was scrutinised by the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC),” CEO Andrew Harrison told Minivan News in an interview in March, setting a target for the completion of the refurbishment in October.
The refurbishment is “essentially throw-away” considering it will have less than a three year lifespan until the new terminal is completed in 2014, Harrison told Minivan News at the time, but will include a food court and a raised ceiling in arrivals so tourists can see the sea as they emerge from the gate.
Besides ongoing upgrade work and staff training exercises, recent developments include the signing of a US$140 million contract with the State Trading Organisation (STO) to supply fuel, switching the contract over from Dubai-based Galana Petroleum.
More recently, the government announced that the airport was to be renamed after former President Ibrahim Nasir, who ordered its construction during his rule.