Located on the island of Hulhulé, the Malé Airport – or, Ibrahim Nasir International – is the main airport in the Maldives. Its situation is unmatchable and approaching it on a plane is as magical as it gets when it comes to landing on exotic destinations. Just think about a main runway surrounded by deep azure waters, turquoise lagoons, white sandy beaches and coconut trees, and you’ll understand why this airport has been voted 5th in a survey by PrivateFly.com to find the world’s best airport approaches.
Still, one of the factors that makes this airport so unique, is that it was made by volunteers. Originally, the airport consisted of a single runway built on an area of cleared ground on Hulhulé Island and made of slotted steel sheets. This was in 1960 but, as the country started to become a major tourist hub, the airport’s facilities had to be developed too.
So in 1964 the people of Mále moved en masse to construct a new asphalt runway. As many as 2250 volunteers carried out the work in an atmosphere of competition between the denizens of the four districts of Mále.
Although the work was voluntary there was the succulent sum of 563.08 Maldivian Rufiya to reward the fastest teams. The people from the Henveiru district dug out the first square of metal in just 26 minutes and they won the winning prize donated by the government.
The asphalt runway constructed by the hard work of Maldivians was opened on 12th April 1966 by the former prime minister Ibrahim Nasir. Since then, the airport has expanded gradually with a new terminal opened in 1996.
Next time you travel to the Maldives, spare a thought for these volunteers and think they helped make your dreams come true!