MACL to create a COVID-19 ‘safe corridor’ concept at Velana International Airport

Tourists at Velana International Airport. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Maldives Airport Company Limited (MACL) has announced plans to create a COVID-19 safe corridor concept at Velana International Airport (VIA), where specifically cleared crewmembers, aircraft, and airport facilities can work.

The plans were announced by MACL’s CEO Gordon Stewart in his speech at the inauguration of Maldives Border Miles, a one of a kind loyalty program to incentivize frequent visitors, introduced on Sunday evening to coincide with World Tourism Day.

In his speech, Stewart reiterated MACL’s commitment to ensuring the health and safety of passengers and airport staff amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“As we continue to focus on doing everything we can to encourage both airlines and tourists back to the Maldives, we are about to embark on our next ambitious plan. To create a COVID safe corridor concept within our airport,” announced Stewart.

He said that the concept will rely heavily on the ability to carry out fast and regular testing of all airport staff who deal with passengers.

“To achieve this COVID safe corridor, we require both access to new fast testing technology that are emerging, and the ability to test airport staff for COVID antibodies. This is an emerging trend across all airports around the world. We will also require a huge amount of coordination among every stakeholder at the airport, working both at the airport and the tourism sector in Maldives,” he said.

Stewart said that MACL will release further information regarding the creation of the safe corridor concept in the coming weeks.

VIA achieved the Airport Health Accreditation from Airport Council International (ACI) in August, becoming the second airport in the Asia Pacific region, and the 12th airport in the world to receive the certification.

“At VIA, we have implemented many precautionary steps and preventive measures in line with both international and Maldives Health Protection Agency guidelines.  At this point, I want to assure you that the Maldives Airport Company has taken all the necessary steps to maintain Velana International Airport as a safe airport for our travelers,” said Stewart.

With global travel restrictions and the temporary closure of Maldives’ borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic, VIA has experienced a drastic decline in passenger arrivals since February.

While arrivals continue take a drastic hit due to the ongoing pandemic, arrivals was gradually increased since Maldives reopened borders on July 15, with more than 13,500 tourist arrivals recorded in the first two months.

Stewart said he expects arrivals to continue to gradually increase.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel, but only after a vaccine is globally deployed, which is expected next summer. Hence, we need to focus our efforts in implementing new initiatives during these COVID coexisting times, like Maldives Border Miles initiative, and hopefully our COVID safe corridor concept,” he said.