Yagoob warns of ‘imminent’ handover of seaplane terminal to TMA

The new seaplane terminal under development at Velana International Airport. (Sun Photo/Ahmed Awshan Ilyas)

Dhaandhoo MP Yaugoob Abdulla, on Wednesday, expressed alarm over what he said was information of an imminent move to hand over the new seaplane terminal developed in Velana International Airport (VIA) to Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA).

Plans to hand over the management of the seaplane terminal to TMA, allegedly at great loss to the State, is currently under investigation by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC). It followed an earlier parliamentary inquiry and an audit on the seaplane terminal by the Auditor General’s Office.

Yaugoob tweeted on Wednesday night that he had received information of imminent plans to hand over the seaplane terminal to TMA.

He said that he would not hesitate to take action if the terminal was handed over to TMA at loss to the State.

“I will not hesitate to make those accountable if it is handed over to TMA at loss to the State. The Public Accounts Committee will look into this and take action,” said Yaugoob.

Dhaandhoo MP Yaugoob Abdulla. (Photo/People's Majlis)

Construction of the new seaplane terminal had been contracted to China’s Beijing Urban Construction Group (BUCG) for USD 40 million.

The audit on the terminal found that keeping its management under State-owned Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL) would result in a 300 percent boost in its profits, but that it the terminal were handed over to TMA, it would result in an annual loss of USD 41 million to MACL.

MACL’s Acting Managing Director, Moosa Solih previously told the press that the management of the seaplane terminal would remain under MACL, but that seaplane operation would not be relocated to the new terminal in a manner which resulted in losses to current seaplane operators.

He said that while the new seaplane terminal would be managed by MACL as soon as it was done, the company had no right to seize the terminals currently being used by TMA for its operations, and that the contract between MACL and TMA had yet to lapse.

Meanwhile, Economic Minister Fayyaz Ismail commented that MACL was capable of undertaking the management of the new seaplane terminal.

Maldives currently had three seaplane operators; TMA, Maldivian, and Manta Air. Local airline Flyme is also braced to launch seaplane operations soon.