India and Maldives Discuss Civil Aviation Cooperation

India Maldives Delegation

A Maldivian Delegation led by its Minister of Transport and Communication, Dr. Ahmed Shamheed, met Union Minister of Civil Aviation, Shri Ajit Singh, in New Delhi on 04SEP12. The two sides discussed the possibility of increasing air links between Indian cities and Male and strengthening infrastructure at the Male International Airport by an Indian company.

According to prior press releases, the Indian company, GMR Group, was awarded the privatization contract for Male International Airport along with Malaysia Airports Berhad under a public-private partnership for a duration of 25 years. However, there have been a few issues about how exactly the airport will be developed to meet global standards by 2014.

It would appear the Maldives are trying to get more bang for their buck out of India and Malaysia–although it’s unclear how much of a stake Malaysia has in the construction process–by requesting an additional runway be built on reclaimed land in addition to the proposed modernized terminals.

India claims this wasn’t included in the original bid agreement.

To further leverage the Maldivian position, the delegation put forward the current bilateral air services agreement only allowing for flights from India carrying up to 150 passengers. Unfortunately for India, all current flights to the Maldives are carrying more than the allotted amount, which may suggest India would have to reduce flights.

That said, India may capitulate to the Maldives demands if the Maldives considers opening more flights to connect Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai with Male, perhaps in the bid to help India’s ailing aviation industry.

(As of May 2012, Sri Lankan airlines is the largest foreign carrier flying into the Maldives with 38 flights a week, according to the Sri Lankan airlines blog)

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