Night operations resume at Male airport

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The Maldives has reopened all its airports following the 26 December tsunamis and night operations at Hulule Airport near the capital Male will resume this evening.

Hulule, which is served by 13 scheduled international carriers, reopened on 27 December but only for daytime operations because the non-directional beacon (NDB) navigational aid was out of service. Director general of the Maldives Civil Aviation Department Mahmood Razee says the NDB was fixed this afternoon, allowing for the resumption of night operations.

“From this evening we will be resuming and having night operations as well,” Razee says from Male. “We’re also working on getting the VOR/ILS back in service.”

He adds the Government has placed an urgent order for VOR/ILS parts and this navigational aid should be back in service in a few days.

Three of the Maldives’ other four airports were also initially closed after the tsunamis because of flooding. But Hanimadhoo, Kadhdoo and Kaadedhoo all reopened yesterday although Razee says there are still problems with communication lines between Male and Kadhdoo.

Gan, the fifth airport in the Maldives, was not affected by the tsunamis.

The Maldives’ four outer-island airports are served by domestic operators Air Equator and Island Aviation Services, both of which have resumed services.

Floatplane operators Maldivian Air Taxi and Trans Maldivian, which serve those outer-islands that lack airports, are operating humanitarian flights throughout the country and have resumed a few of their scheduled services.

Hulule, located on a small island just outside Male, is the country’s only international airport with service from 13 scheduled and ten charter carriers.

Razee says no airline has yet reduced any of its Male services and instead some carriers are operating extra flights to evacuate tourists and bring in supplies. But the Maldives’ tourism ministry is reporting that the number of inbound tourists has dropped and this could later prompt carriers to reduce their schedules.

Sri Lankan Airlines is the largest carrier serving Male, with direct flights to Colombo as well as to Europe.

A spokesman for the carrier says Sri Lankan had to re-route some flights earlier this week because of the limited reopening at Hulule. He says flights to London and Zurich, which normally run from Colombo via Male, operated directly from Colombo.

With the reopening of all airports in the Maldives, Trincomalee in eastern Sri Lanka seems to be the only airport with scheduled airline service that remains closed because of the tsunamis.

An official with domestic operator Air Lanka says the carrier had to cancel its Colombo-Trincomalee service today because the airport remains closed. She says the service will resume on 31 December but only if the airport is able to reopen.

Trincomalee is one of three airports in Sri Lanka with scheduled airline services. The other airports, located in the capital Colombo and Jaffna in the north, were not affected by the tsunamis.