Malé International Airport was originally named Hulhule Airport when it opened on October 19, 1960. Ibrahim Nasir, the second president of the Maldives, was instrumental in the original construction of the airport. Over the years, the single runway went from a dirt strip, to a steel-plated surface to its present modern-paved surface.
In 1981, after extensive renovations, it was renamed Malé International Airport. Just rercently, on July 26, 2011, the official name was changed to Ibrahim Nasir International Airport, in honor of the late president.
Today, the main international airport of the Maldives still only has a single runway, but it has been lengthened, widened and improved so it can handle modern commercial aircraft with no problem. The original runway was a 75 foot wide and 3,000 foot long narrow dirt strip. Today it is an asphalt surface that measures 10,499 feet (3,200 meters) in length and is nearly 150 feet (45 meters) in width.
The modern terminal is complete with shops, restaurants and most of the modern conveniences you would expect in any international airport. While it may be only the fraction of the size of Heathrow in London or Kennedy in New York, the large terminal building has plenty to keep people comfortable and entertained between flights.
Located on the ground floor, close to the departure area, the Australian based cafe serves delicious breakfasts, coffee, lunch and snacks.
Maldives Promotion House
A recently completed project that combines the relaxing atmosphere of an upscale lounge with a generous buffet and a la carte menu, first class and business travelers can enter the Maldives Promotion House at no cost. Other travelers are also welcomed to enjoy the facility, but are required to first pay a small fee.
If you are in a hurry and want to get your food quickly, try one of the self-serve cafeterias where you can pick what you like and take it directly to a table to eat.
Duty-free shops on the first floor by the departure gate, offer souvenirs, alcohol, cigarettes, electronics and a wide variety of other items. There is also a fresh flower shop .
Bank of Maldives
A branch of the Bank of Maldives is conveniently located near the exit of the arrival terminal. A foreign exchange service is available for those who want to exchange their native currency for local currency.
Mailing, Calling and Communicating
- Post office located near the entrance of the departure area
- International and local phone calls at phones throughout the terminal
- A cyber cafe and wireless Internet access
Lost & Found
If you discover that your luggage, cell phone or other personal items are missing, check with the Lost and Found staff at the 24-hour counter located in the departure lounge.
Travelers with Disabilities
Bathrooms are handicap accessible and assistance is available for anyone with a disability. If you need help, the airport information desk can assist you.
Seaplane Transfer Service
Seaplanes are the most practical and efficient way of transporting arriving international visitors to the many popular resorts and hotels scattered throughout the islands of the Maldives. Seaplanes have pontoons and they take off and land on the water. The short flights usually take between 15 and 45 minutes and passengers are treated to some magnificent views of the blue waters and lush island scenery. There are two primary companies that offer transfer services from Mahe International Airport.
Maldivian Air Taxi
In business since 1993, Maldivian Air Taxi serves about 400,000 passengers each year. On a daily basis, that equates to roughly 70 flights and 1,200 passengers each day. Located on the eastern side of the Malé International Airport, the Maldivian Air Taxi terminal is the next stop for visitors just arriving in the Maldives. After you gather your luggage, look for the Maldivian Air Taxi sign. From the main terminal, visitors can board an air conditioned coach and take a short ride to the seaplane terminal.
Relax in comfort as you wait for the boarding call on one of the twenty DHC-6 Twin Otter seaplanes.
While you wait:
- Enjoy a refreshing drink and maybe a bite to eat at the Sand Bar.
- Connect to the outside world with free WiFi.
- Pick up a gift at the souvenir shop.
- Let the children unwind in the special play area just for kids.
- Take advantage of the two exclusive lounges.
Each of the planes in the fleet can accommodate 19 passengers and their luggage. Each passenger is allowed to take a 5 kilogram carry-on bag and may check up to 20 kilograms of additional luggage.
In most circumstances, all of your luggage travels with you on the same flight. Occasionally, if there is an excessive amount of luggage that needs to be transported, it may be placed aboard another plane and delivered directly to your hotel.
Flying in a small seaplane may be a new experience for many, but there is nothing to fear. All of the pilots are licensed and fully certified. Maldivian Air Taxi places top priority on the safe and comfortable transport of all passengers. Regular maintenance schedules are closely observed and flights are smooth and enjoyable. Your plane lands gently on the calm waters and then taxis over to the dock where you can walk right up to your hotel.
Trans Maldivian Airways
Originally founded in 1989 as Hummingbird Island Helicopters,the company was renamed Trans Maldivian Airways and converted their fleet of helicopters to all fixed-wing DHC-6 Twin Otters in 1999. The Canadian built seaplanes are the standard in the industry and provide safe and reliable transport for tourists and visitors of the Maldives.
Like Maldivian Air Taxi, Trans Maldivian Airways offers shuttle service to their terminal on the grounds of Malé International. The terminal is a comfortable place to wait for the short-distance flights to the various island destinations in the Maldives. While you wait, you can relax in the lounge and get yourself a cool drink.
Trans Maldivian Airways has a fleet of 23 DHC-6 Twin Otters, including three brand new model 400 seaplanes. Safety is the number one concern and every passenger is welcomed with open arms. Approximately 400,000 visitors are transferred to and from the Malé International Airport aboard Trans Maldivian Airways.
Boat + Ferry Transfers
If you have a reservation in Malé, the capital and largest city in the Maldives, you have the option of taking a ferry from the airport or hopping aboard a speedboat for a quick trip up the coast.
The ferry, called a "dhoni" by the locals, offers a smooth ride and inexpensive way (about $1 US) to get between Malé International and Malé City. Service is provided twenty four hours per day.
Airport Express is another service that provides speedboat transportation from the airport to Malé. Arrangements can be made for transport by speedboat to nearby islands and other points of interest. Many visitors, who book vacation packages with the different resorts, are picked up in speedboats by representatives of the resorts and taken directly to their accommodations.