One of the biggest aircrafts currently operated worldwide, the A380, landed at the new runway of Velana International Airport with the Maldives national football team on Tuesday.
The flight which left United Arab Emirates (UAE)’s Abu Dhabi at 10:28 a.m. was piloted by Maldivian pilot Ali Ahsan.
This marks the first landing of the A380-861 in Maldives.
Prior to landing, Maldives President Abdulla Yameen granted the flight permission to land.
The flight was carrying the Maldivian national football team which emerged victors of the SAFF Championship 2018 held at Bangladesh. The Ambassador of Maldives to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Dr. Hussain Niyaz also travelled with the team aboard the A380.
The flight made a trip round the capital Male’ City at an altitude of 1000 feet prior to landing at VIA. Six seaplanes of Maldivian and TMA carried out a fly pass near the bridge while officers of Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) landed at the airport on parachutes.
Many gathered near the bridge to celebrate the victory of the national football team and to watch the opening ceremony of the new runway.
Under the airport development project, a new runway, apron, fuel farm, and a cargo terminal was set to be built.
The government said the whole project, which was carried out in two main phases, will cost USD 800 million. The project was assigned to China’s Beijing Urban Construction Group.
The most important work of the first phase is the new runway construction. It is 3,400 m long and 65 m wide, and accommodates the biggest airplanes in the world.
The airport’s new terminal was built in the second phase of the project. The work is estimated to cost USD 350 million, the equivalent of MVR 5.3 billion. The project was given to Saudi Arabia’s Bin Laden Group during the end of March in 2016.
President Yameen said the airport is being developed to cater for 70 million people and to withstand service for the next 50 years.