outside the Maldives capital of Male has reopened but its navigational aids are not
serviceable and three smaller airports in the Indian Ocean island chain
remain closed following yesterday’s deadly tsunamis.
Maldives was one of the hardest hit countries, with two-thirds of Male
flooded and the status of outer island where thousands of tourists are
vacationing unknown because communication links have been severed.
Damage to aircraft, however, appears to be
minimal. Director general of the Maldives Civil Aviation Department Mahmood Razee says only two
floatplanes, one operated by domestic operator Maldivian Air Taxi and the other
by Trans Maldivian Airways, have sustained major damage.
Razee says the Maldives’ only international airport, Hulule, reopened
to inbound flights this morning but may have to closed again this evening
because its non-directional beacon (NDB) remains out of service.
“At the moment we’ve reopened the airport
for day operations. Some navaids have problems,” he
tells ATI from Male. “Depending on if
we can make the NDB operational, we will determine later if we can take flights
Razee adds the airport’s VOR, ILS and localizer are also out of service
and these will not be fixed for at least several days.
Hulule Airport first
closed at 930am yesterday, when the tsunamis hit, washing away buildings on the
coast line and hitting some areas with as much as 1.2m of water. The airport
reopened at but only for outgoing flights. Inbound flights were accepted from
Hulule Airport is
located on a small island a short boat ride away from Male.
Most international airlines servicing the Maldives
are preparing to resume services today and some are planning to operate extra
flights to evacuate tourists. Scheduled domestic flights, however, are not
expected to resume for several days, says Razee.
He explains the operational centres of the
four domestic airlines in the country have been damaged, forcing the carriers
to suspend scheduled flights. Also three of Maldives’
other four airports have not yet reopened.
Razee says only Gan airport in the southern Maldives
is not damaged. He says the airport in Kadhdoo remains
flooded and cannot be reopened until the water level recedes. He says the
Maldives Civil Aviation Department has not yet been able to contact the
airports in Hanimadhoo and Kaadedhoo
so the damage at these airports is unknown.
The rest of the country is served by
floatplanes. He says Maldivian Air Taxi and Trans Maldivian Airways are
operating some humanitarian flights and some special services to evacuate
tourists from outer island, but their regular schedules will likely not resume
for a week.
Maldivian Air Taxi operates a fleet of 13 de
Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otters and Trans Maldivian operates 11 Twin Otters,
according to AvSoft’s ACAS database. Razee says one aircraft from each operator has sustained
major damage but the others are serviceable or have only minor damage to their
The other two domestic airlines in the Maldives
are Air Equator and Island Aviation Services. Razee
says Air Equator operates one Fairchild F 27 and Island Aviation operates one Dornier 228s and one Bombardier Dash 8. He says all these
aircraft are serviceable.