Maldives government to take over Male airport despite court ruling

Singapore
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The government of the Maldives is planning to ignore a court injunction and take over the operation of Male's Ibrahim Nasir International Airport on 9 December.

The airport's operator, GMR Male International Airport (GMIAL), says that following the move by the government to terminate its concession agreement, the High Court in Singapore, where the case is being arbitrated, has granted an injunction that prevents the government from taking over operation of the airport.

In a meeting with Maldives' transport minister on 4 December, however, GMIAL was advised that the Maldives Airport Corporation Ltd (MACL) would take control of the airport on 9 December, and that the injunction granted by the court is not binding to a sovereign state.

However, GMIAL chief executive Andrew Harrison says he received legal advice that the injunction is binding, and that while the company remains open to talks with the government, it does not intend to hand over control of the airport to MACL.

"We will always maintain dialogue but our legal position is very clear and we will not compromise on our legal position which is clearly supported by the injunction," he adds.

GMIAL, which is a joint venture between India's GMR Group and Malaysia Airport Holdings, has been in a dispute with the government after a Maldivian court ruling prevented it from collecting an airport development charge on passengers. The case is being arbitrated in Singapore.

In late November, the government announced that it was terminating GMIAL's concession agreement to operate the airport, saying that it had legal advice that the agreement was not legally binding as it had not been ratified by the country's parliament.