GMIAL to hand over Male airport by midnight

Indo Asian News Service

New Delhi/Male, Dec 7 (IANS) The GMR-backed consortium GMIAL, whose contract for managing the Male airport was cancelled last week, Friday said that it will hand over the operations at the Ibrahim Nassir International Airport to a Maldives firm by midnight Friday.

The company said that it was taking this step in compliance of Thursday's verdict given by the Singapore High Court in the matter.

"In deference to the orders of the court of appeals, Singapore, GMIAL will facilitate a smooth takeover of the Ibrahim Nassir International Airport by the Maldives Airport Company Ltd (MACL), effective midnight tonight (Friday)," the company said in a statement.

The Thursday's verdict of the Singapore High Court went in favour of the Maldives government, which has decided to terminate the $500 million contract awarded to GMIAL.

"GMIAL has been assured that as a result of this takeover, all its employees, suppliers and other interested parties will not be put to any inconvenience," the statement said.

According to the statement, the company is committed in finding a amicable solution to the issue and that the option for compensation is open to it.

"GMIAL remains committed to finding a suitable solution to this situation. We are taking requisite steps to work out the compensation receivable from the government of Maldives," the company said.

However, the company had earlier said that it has not accepted any compensation for the cancellation of the contract and that any legal recourse will may put significant and avoidable financial burden on the island nation.

The project was awarded to the GMR Group under the tenure of then President Mohamed Nasheed, who was ousted in February 2012.

Several Indian banks like Axis Bank, Indian Overseas Bank and Indian Bank have contributed about $368 million to the project. This was also the single largest Indian foreign direct investment in the Maldives.

The Maldivian cabinet has also asked GMIAL to vacate and remove all property from the airport within 30 days.