Nasandhura to be developed as a 15-storey luxury hotel

The government has revealed plans to develop the recently closed Nasandhura Palace Hotel on the waterfront of Malé as a 15-storey luxury hotel with apartments and a convention centre.

Speaking to Minivan News today, deputy tourism minister Ibrahim Lirar said Nasandhura will be re-developed as a five-star city hotel by Galaxy Enterprises – a company owned by President Abdulla Yameen’s brother-in-law Mohamed Manik.

“The company is going through all the design phases, which then has to be approved from the tourism ministry before they can start construction,” said Lirar.

Nasandhura Palace Hotel, located in front of the airport ferry terminal, first opened in 1981 and was managed by the government.

The site was previously handed to Shangri-la in May 2008 to develop a 15-storey hotel, before a crack in the coral reef outside the area doomed the project.

Shangri-la was provided land near Dharubaaruge to develop the hotel, but the project has since been stalled.

The hotel development project on the Nasandhuraa plot was awarded to Galaxy Enterprises five years ago.

The large plot of land also accommodates the state-owned Island Aviation Services’ head office, which has now been provided new premises to move its operations, said Lirar.

Island Aviation’s head of administration Ali Nashaath told Minivan News that the airline will be moving its headquarters to the vacant Raiveriyaa restaurant in the western end of Malé.

“We never had our own land to operate from for the past 15 or so years. So we are planning to develop the Raiveriyaa site as our permanent headquarters,” said Nashaath.

Haveeru reported that the cabinet’s economic council last month had requested Island Aviation to move out from Nasandhura, after transferring ownership of the plot of land from the housing ministry to the tourism ministry.

Asked about the bidding process in the hotel development project, Lirar said the tourism ministry followed all due procedures.

“The government will decide what happens to the land as it is government-owned. We will employ it in ways which would provide the maximum benefit to the government,” said Lirar.


Civil Court orders DRP to pay over MVR1.1 million to MTCC

The Civil Court has on Sunday ordered the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) to pay MVR1,111,438.96 (USD72,406.45) to Maldives Transport and Contract Company Plc (MTCC).

The party was taken to court by the MTCC after its failure to pay this amount for services rendered to the party during the 2008 presidential elections, in which the party’s then-leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom lost to the Maldivian Democratic Party’s Mohamed Nasheed.

The Civil Court verdict in the case orders the party to split the payment and complete payments within a period of six months.

Earlier in April, the Civil Court ordered the party to pay back a debt of over MVR700,000 (USD45,602.61) to HUB Company. The DRP was later fined by the court for ts  failure to complete payment as per court orders.

Island Aviation Services are also currently suing the party seeking repayment of debts. After backing unsuccessful candidates during the 2013 presidential election, the DRP failed to win any seats in the 2014 Majlis elections.


Fire truck delays flights at Kahdhoo airport

A fire truck malfunction has halted flight operations at Laamu atoll Kahdhoo’s domestic airport.

Technicians are working on repairs, a senior official from Island Aviation told Haveeru.

The fire category, which needs to be at a certain level to land an aircraft, reached zero, the official said. Further details of the malfunction were not available.

On September 21 Island Aviation also ceased operations to Kahdhoo airport for four hours due to another fire truck malfunction.


Scheduled flights commence to Fuvahmulah airport

Scheduled flights commenced to the newly-built Fuvahmulah airport today after the airport operating license was granted.

According to state broadcaster MNBC One, scheduled flights from Island Aviation will travel to the atoll island four days a week. A return ticket from Male’ to Fuvahmulah costs Rf3,194 with the fuel surcharge.

An Island Aviation test flight landed in the 1,200-meter runway on October 31.


Civil Court orders DRP to pay its Rf 510,497 bill with Island Aviation Services

The Civil Court has ordered the  main opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), led by MP Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, to pay Island Aviation Services Rf 510,497 (US$39,727).

Judge Abdul Sameer gave the party one month to repay the debt.

In June 2010 the DRP was given 13 days by the Civil Court to complete an examination of documentation and invoices from Island Aviation Services, after the party claimed it needed more time and requested an extension.

In the previous hearing held on the case, the DRP’s lawyer appealed for more time to examine the documentation and invoices presented by the national airline. Island Aviation Services had contended that the DRP was trying to delay the payment as long as it could, as there was no dispute that a payment was pending.

Citing Island Aviation Services’ annual audit report, local newspaper Haveeru reported that on August 21, 2008, ahead of the Presidential election, Island Aviation Services provided the DRP a credit limit of Rf 100,000 which was due to be repaid within 15 days.

However, the Rf 100,000 rose to more than Rf 800,000 (US$62,256) and DRP had not paid the balance after four months, Haveeru reported.

DRP MP Ahmed Nihan said today that the party was unable to pay the debt because of “difficulties” relating to its financial condition.

”But the DRP will always follow the courts of law,” said Nihan. ”We have always raised our voice for others to follow the courts, and the DRP [itself] will definitely follow the court [ruling].”

He said that he was unsure about the reason for the delay in settling the debt.

DRP leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali was not responding to calls at time of press.


Island Aviation to transfer three departments to GMR

Island Aviation Services (IAS) will lose its profitable cargo services, ground services and Maldivian ground operations to Indian infrastructure giant GMR when it takes over the operations at Male’ international airport, reports Haveeru.

IAS Managing Director ‘Bandu’ Ibrahim Saleem told Haveeru that the company recorded a Rf67 million profit from the three departments in 2009 (Rf56 million in 2008).

GMR is to transfer 248 employees to the same posts and salaries under a two year contract commencing in late November, IAS Admin Manager Ali Nashaath told Haveeru.

“We got the assurance on last Monday. We have already started the transferring process,” she said. “We transferred those departments as we did not have any other choice,” adding that ministers had sought to extend the arrangement to 2012.


13 Day Invoice Deadline for DRP over alleged Rf500,000 debt to Island Aviation: Civil Court

The DRP has been given 13 days by the Civil Court to complete an examination of documentation and invoices from Island Aviation Services, which is claiming that debts of Rf500,000 are owed to the Maldives government airline by the opposition political party, reports Miadhu Daily.

The Court said this would be DRP’s last opportunity to respond to Court orders, according to Miadhu Daily, and the DRP would have to respond to Island Aviation Services regarding the case by IAS against the DRP for unpaid bills.

In the previous hearing held on the case, the DRP’s lawyer appealed for more time to examine the documentation and invoices presented by the national airline, reported Miadhu Daily, and the DRP also hinted that it desired to settle the case out of court, after the IAS went to court following lack of cooperation from DRP.

The DRP later said it needed more time and requested an extension.

During the latest hearing, the IAS lawyer said that the airline no longer wished to reach an “out of court settlement” with the DRP, according to Miadhu Daily, and the DRP had also failed to respond to IAS’s earlier calls for an out of the court settlement, the IAS lawyer added.

The IAS has said that DRP is trying to delay payment as long as it can, and the DRP’s lawyer did not dispute the fact that there was a pending payment, but he said some of the IAS invoices were repeated and disputed the exact figures claimed by the IAS, reported Miadhu Daily.

The DRP lawyer asked for 29 days to verify the IAS documentation, but was given 13 days.

The judge also declared at yesterday’s hearing that the DRP has failed, or does not wish, to settle the issue out of court as earlier proposed by the IAS.


Island Aviation Services Rf100 million shortfall to be covered by government

The government will cover the Rf100 million annual shortfall projected for Island Aviation Services (IAS) from the privatisation of Male International Airport, according to company managing Director Ibrahim ‘Bandu’ Saleem. “We are a government company controlled by government policies.”

“It is not a loss, actually. It is a shortfall of Rf100 million annually. That means we are making profits. We are paying dividends to the Finance Ministry. But we are short of cash for our operations.” The government will provide a monthly instalment of around Rf8 million.

Saleem added that “the turbulence” was caused by delays in opening new resorts set for 2008-2010. “The resorts did not open when we brought aircraft after making contracts based on that. So we are short of cash because we have to settle the aircraft loan. That is not something we can do alone. Our operations will improve when the resorts open,” he said. Projected revenues “vanished in a puff of smoke” when Seenu (Addu) atoll Herathera resort stopped operations in mid 2009. “That shortfall is plugged by other operations.”

“We are increasing fares by Rf50 every six months,” said Saleem. “That is not a secret… but when we consider the reality, Island Aviation is the cheapest on per kilometre basis.”

Fares must increase because the prices of engine spare parts increase by 10 percent annually, and also due to inflation, Saleem explained.


Coastguard rescues stranded Iranian vessel

Maldives Coastguard rescued an Iranian fishing vessel in Maldivian waters, reports Miadhu.

Coastguards had heard reports of an Iranian fishing vessel which drifted into Maldivian waters. Island Aviation air crafts were also used in the search.

The vessel was located 75 miles off the coast of Havadu Atoll and was found without food or water.

There were twenty crew-members on board, seven of them had previously high-jacked the boat.

The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) confirmed there were no weapons found on board, and negotiations are underway to send the vessel back to Iran.