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Terminals, services, transfers from Male airport: everything a tourist needs to know upon arrival in the Maldives.

Maldives International Airport (Velana International Airport, MLE) occupies the whole island of Hulhule, which is located near the capital of the Maldives, Male and the island of Hulhumale. It is the main airport of the country, where more than 90% of the Maldives' international aircrafts fly from different parts of the world. It accepts all classes of aircraft and is located just 2 km from Male. You can get to the capital by ferry


History of appearance

The construction of the airport was initiated by the second President of the Republic of Maldives, Ibrahim Nasir. In his honor, the airport has long been called the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport. But since 2017, the airport has received a new name: Velana International Airport in honor of the home of the second President of the Maldives. Thus, even after the name change, he still left contact with the initiator of the construction. But more often the airport is called Male International Airport.

Main characteristics

  • The airport opened on October 19, 1966. It meets international requirements for receiving all classes of passenger aircraft: it accepts all types of civil aircraft, including seaplanes and airbuses.
  • At the moment the airport has 2 modern runways. The first was built in the 80s, and the second was renovated quite recently, in 2018.
  • The length of the main runway is 3200 m, the width is 45 m, and the height above sea level is 2 m.
  • The second lane was opened in 2018 after reconstruction. Length - 3400 m, width - 60 m. It is this runway that is capable of receiving an airbus. It was specially designed to accommodate heavier aircraft.
  • The airport receives about 5 million passengers a year (2019).
  • About 50-60 thousand flights are carried out annually.
  • The maritime terminal has four water runways that are used for seaplanes.
  • Over 40 airlines from all over the world operate regular international flights to Male airport .


Airport terminals

Male airport is rather modest in size. It is two-story and small, has 6 gates and three terminals:

  • International terminal. It is here that passengers from different parts of the world flock, and then they take a transfer and leave for different islands in the Maldives.
  • Terminal internal airlines (Domestic terminal). Local airlines transport tourists to more remote islands, which are located in the distance from Male. Domestic flights are carried out with the airport of Gan, Kaadedhdhoo, Fuvahmulah, Kadhoo and others. Now the network of airports in the Maldives is expanding. In 2022, 21 airports will operate in the country.
  • Seaport (seaplane terminal, Seaplane terminal). Male Airport is one of the world's largest seaplane operators. More than 50 aircraft operate between the islands.

Airport expansion

To meet the growing demand and make the stay of tourists at the airport more comfortable, it was decided to build a new international passenger terminal. After the reconstruction, the airport will be able to receive 7.5 million passengers a year. The project was scheduled to be completed in mid-2022. Its cost is $ 800 million. A new international terminal with a size of 78 thousand square meters is under construction. It will be equipped with aerodynamic ladders, baggage handling systems, shopping areas, restaurants, bars, lounges. A new cargo terminal is also being built.


Transfer to Male

There are several ways to get to the capital of the Maldives from the airport.

  • Ferry (Airport ferry). The pier is located right next to the exits from the international terminal building Passenger ferries run constantly. The vessel can accommodate about 30 passengers. The distance to Male is only 2 km, so the journey from the airport by ferry will take about 10 minutes. Cost - about $ 2, more expensive in the evening. The ferry moors at the Hulhumale Ferry Terminal.

Important: the ferry does not run at night, and on Fridays it runs less often, because it falls on a national day off. In the first half of the day, ferries run every 10 minutes, in the afternoon, every 30 minutes.

  • Speed ​​boat (Express link). At the exit from the terminal there is a shuttle bus stop that takes tourists to the pier. From the pier in the direction of Male, a speedboat departs every 15 minutes, operating from 7 am to midnight.
  • Dhoni's boat. A traditional Maldivian boat serves airport passengers. The pier is just outside the arrivals area. Runs as it is filled. The cost is about $ 1.
  • Bus. The airport and Male are connected by a bridge, which was built quite recently, in 2018. The bridge is about 2 km long and the journey takes only 3 minutes. The bus name is Metro bus. It departs from the airport's international terminal every 30 minutes. Finding a bus stop is easy. It is located at the exit from the airport. On Hulhumale Island, the bus stops near the mosque.
  • Taxi. You can use a taxi service from the airport. The cost of a trip to the neighboring islands ranges from $ 7 to $ 15.


Airport transfers to the islands

If you do not need to go to Male, you can immediately go to your island from the airport. There are several ways:

  • Speed ​​boats. Usually used for transfers to nearby islands. As a rule, the boat is taken to the islands of North and South Male, located closest to the airport. The journey can take from 10 minutes to a couple of hours, depending on the location of the island. If a boat transfer is planned, check with the hotel where it departs from: from Male or Hulhule (airport). But mostly high-speed boats come from the Villingili Ferry terminal located in Male.
  • Seaplane. A small plane landing on the water and taking off from the water. Convenient for reaching outlying islands: much faster than a speedboat.

The marine terminal is located on the opposite side of the island.

It is conveniently accessible by a free shuttle. The marine terminal is of particular interest to tourists. After all, it is here that there is a whole fleet of unusual aircraft that can take off directly from the water. Tourists who change to a seaplane are greeted by hotel representatives in the international terminal with signs. Their task is to take the tourist to the check-in counter, where he checks in his luggage, weighs his hand luggage. Then the tourist is taken to a bus that goes to the sea terminal. It takes about 7 minutes to get to it. Further waiting in a comfortable room.

Where to find a bus to the sea terminal: The shuttle from the International Airport to the sea terminal departs near the airport exit. Landmark - hotel kiosks.

How much baggage is allowed on seaplanes? Seaplane passengers can carry on board luggage weighing up to 20 kg and hand luggage weighing no more than 5 kg. If several people are traveling, then the total weight of the baggage is added up. The cost of the overweight is about $ 7 per kilogram.

When seaplanes work. Seaplanes carry passengers exclusively during daylight hours, from 6:00 to 16:00 and only in good weather. Sometimes, due to bad weather, you have to look for other transfer options. If your plane arrives in the evening, you should pre-book a room near the airport. Because you have to wait for the transfer until the morning. In this case, it is convenient to choose hotels in Male or Hulhumale.

  • Local airlines. To get to the atolls located far from Male, it is best to use the local airlines. Domestic flights carry tourists to more remote islands. The journey can take over an hour. The local airlines terminal is located near the arrivals terminal. You can reach it on foot. Just turn right as you exit the International Terminal and walk 200m.

Important: Please note that domestic flights are often delayed.

We have written everything about transfers to the Maldives in this article.
  • Ferry. Departures from the capital Male. Buses run from the airport to the ferry. The ferry is suitable exclusively for those tourists who go to the local islands.
Learn more about ferries in the Maldives from this article.


Services at the airport

  • To make it easier for tourists to navigate, there is a meeting point at the airport, where representatives of hotels with signs are waiting for guests. The largest hotels in the Maldives have their own information kiosks, where you can turn for the necessary information.
  • All airport terminals have arrivals and departures. You can also follow the schedule online on the airport website.
  • At the passenger terminal, you can order a suitcase packing service: $ 8.
  • Airport trolleys are free of charge.
  • There are ATMs, as well as an exchange office where you can exchange money for local rufiyaa immediately upon arrival. However, as with most airports in the world, the rate is poor. In shops on local islands, currency exchange is more profitable. Therefore, it is better to exchange currency on local islands. And on the resort islands, the local currency may not be useful at all.
  • Mobile operators' kiosks. There are only two of them: they sell SIM cards for calls and the Internet, there are various tariffs. You can use the internet kiosk and post office.
More details about communication and the Internet in the Maldives.
  • You can leave your belongings in the luggage room, which is open around the clock. The cost of luggage storage is $ 6-12, depending on the size.
  • For families with children, there is a mother and child room.
  • There is a medical office at the airport, where you can get qualified assistance around the clock. There is also a pharmacy.
  • There is a separate prayer room for Muslims in the international terminal.
  • Guests who need to spend several hours waiting for their transfer can use the spa center, beauty salon, or go for a massage. The terminal has free showers as well as a smoking room.
  • VIP service Some large hotels have their own lounge areas. Their use is included in the price of the stay. Guests of expensive resorts can relax in their own lounge area and comfortably await their flight.
  • All other passengers can use the shared lounge. Cost - $ 25 per hour. You can take a shower for free, relax under air conditioning, and have a massage ($ 10 - 15 minutes). Located on the second floor in the Domestic Terminal.
  • Food court area. There are cafes and restaurants at the airport where you can spend time with a cup of coffee. Tourists will find European coffee shops, an Australian coffee chain, a Thai restaurant, and more. While waiting for your flight, you can relax in a cafe or restaurant with air conditioning and free Wi-Fi. Cafe password when buying in a cafe. It is available for 30 minutes and only works on one device.
  • There are Duty Free shops on the territory of the airport, where you can find alcoholic drinks on sale. This applies to passengers departing from the Maldives. Please note that alcohol is prohibited from entering the country. When passing through customs, he will be seized and sent to the storage room. You can pick it up on the way back.
  • For tourists who, for some reason, cannot find their luggage, a lost luggage tracing service operates around the clock. It is located in the arrivals terminal. If the baggage has not been received immediately after arrival, you should contact the service staff for advice. They will help to find it and deliver it to tourists to their destination.

Asad Photo Maldives
Asad Photo Maldives

Passage of procedures at the airport

  • Upon the arrival of the plane, two ladders are served to it, after which the passengers go downstairs and change to the bus. He brings tourists to the terminal.

Life hack. To go through passport control faster, it is better to get on the first bus and stand closer to the doors.

  • Passing through passport control. You must present a completed migration card. As a rule, they are handed out right on the plane. They are also available at the counters in the arrivals area.
  • Inspection of hand luggage.
  • Receipt of baggage. The monitors above the luggage straps indicate the flight from which the suitcases will be issued. This makes it easier to find your luggage.

Important: you need to check your suitcases so that there are no red stickers on them. Otherwise, you may be sent down the red corridor and turned over in search of prohibited items. For example, alcohol. Sometimes travelers simply take off their red tags as they calmly walk through the green corridor.

  • Meeting at the airport. After exiting the airport, you should find your operator's desk. Tourists who have booked a hotel and paid for the transfer are met right at the exit from Male airport by representatives of the hotels. Unlike countries such as Egypt or Turkey, the transfer is carried out by hotel representatives, not tour operators.

Advice. If upon arrival you do not find a representative of the hotel or guide, you should contact the help desk. They are in every terminal for tourist assistance.

  • Departure from Male. It should be noted that passengers boarding is carried out at the airfield parking lots, where passengers are transported by buses. To get to the plane, you need to go along special paths. It is worth considering this nuance if you are going to take heavy carry-on luggage with you. 


Interesting facts

  • Male airport received the first aircraft in 1960. After opening, the Male airport received only small civilian and military aircraft. The first plane to land in the Maldives was a military transport plane. And the commercial flight was performed only 2 years after the opening of the airport.
  • With the development of tourism in the Maldives, the question arose about the construction of a new airport with a longer runway. In this regard, it was decided to lengthen the island. It was artificially enlarged by pouring dry land over the existing frame. The renovated international airport was opened in the 80s.
  • The airport runway was made from fossilized coral: over 120,000 tones used! This increased the original area of ​​the island several times.
  • Since 2010, the country's main airport has been privatized, which pushed it towards further development and modernization of passenger terminals.
  • Volunteers worked on the reconstruction of the runway. To remove the old coating, a competition was held between them: whose team will cope with the task faster.


Contacts Velana airport in Maldives

Male airport is small and easy to deal with. Nevertheless, it is worth considering in advance how long it will take to wait for the transfer: in some cases, it is advisable to book a hotel in order to spend time with comfort. 


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