Originally built by the British as a staging post for its RAF during 1950s and was handed over to the Maldivian Government in 1976 with almost an equivalent of an ICAO code 4D air strip comprising of then state of the art equipment and facilities.
In the National Development Plan of the early 1980s it was envisioned to develop Gan for International commercial operations through a two stage development plan with the following goals
Stage 1 development Plan - Code 4C Non-Precision Approach Runway
Runway - Existing length 2620m width 45m, Threshold displacement 150m rwy 28 and 10. Repair works of concrete slabs and joints
Strip - A strip width of 300m to be secured and prepared in accordance with Annex 14
Taxiways - 3m shoulders to be provided on each side, overall 25m
Markings - Existing Runway Designation, Runway Center line,- (Gap and stripe ~ 58m), Transverse Stripe, Threshold, Taxiway Center line,- and guidance markings to be provided and checked to meet recommendation in Annex 14, Displaced Threshold arrows, Touchdown Zone, Fixed Distance, Runway side stripe - Taxi holding position and apron markings to be provided in accordance to Annex 14
Lights - Lighting System to be checked to meet recommendations in annex 14, Approach Lighting System on reclaimed area or off-shore whichever is more convenient
Non-Visual Aids - Aids tobe installed under assistance of Australian Government Programme
Stage 2 development Plan - Code 4E Precision Approach Runway, Cat 1
Runway - Extension of Runway 980m to a total length of 3600m. To provide runway shoulders 7.5m on each side, total width 60m. To strengthen mid section of existing turn-arounds. Thresholds displaced 150m.
Strip - Associated strip to runway extension to be prepared in accordance with Annex 14
Taxiways - Existing Taxiways to be extended to an overall width of 53m (Taxiway 23m and 15m shoulders in each side. One additional taxiway to be provided if operations require, overall width 53m.
Apron - Strengthen western part of apron
Visual Aids - Markings and lighting Systems to be provided on runway extension.
Non-Visual Aids - To be provide precision landing aid.
Stage 1 development was completed in 1991 and services continued both day and night mainly serving domestic flights with occasional cargo flights from Colombo.
On 12th July 1998 the Government has decided to further upgrade facilities to serve International flights direct from regional hubs to Gan without having to land in Male International Airport in order to support tourism that is expected to grow in the region particularly targeting the completion of Villingili resort - now Shangri la's Villingili.
The project costing US$ 17,945,307.15 funded by Lagan International of Northern Ireland as a contractor finance loan agreement was started in 10th July 2003 and completion was inaugurated on 29th January 2008.
Under this upgrade a new Passenger Terminal, with an approximate ckeck-in capacity of processing 180 passengers per hour and a new Refueling Facility for jets was built along with additional navigational equipment and airfield lighting to suit non-precision approach operations supporting code D aircraft such as Boeing 767-200.
The new management of Addu International Airport Pvt Ltd - a company came to existence as part of the Government's privatization policy, proposed to carry out a major re-development of the airport to cater for international passenger jets and also to introduce a seaplane operation in Gan. The development is proposed to take place in three phases.
Under Phase One a construction contract was signed with Gulf Cobla Tennssor Maldives Pvt. Ltd. on 22nd April 2013 for the dredging, reclamation and coastal protection component of the development works. This includes reclaiming approximately 1 million cubic meters of sand in the western end of the runway, 40,000 cubic meters in the eastern end of the runway, construction of 1600m long rock revetment and 925m long geotube protection at the western side and 625m geotube protection at the eastern side.
The construction of 1600m long rock revetment was later revised for constructing concrete capped sheet pile protection wall due to constraints of obtaining rock.
The Contract addendum for this variation order was signed on 28th August 2014 with a revised Contract Value of USD 14,952,613.79
Phase Two of the project which is the construction of the runway for Code 4E was signed with Hojgaard on the 27th of August 2014 for a contract price of US$20,670,000 (inclusive of GST)
Phase 2 includes the extension and overlay of 850m of existing runway with shoulders along with a new Turning Pad for Western end (10) of runway.
Overlay of the existing runway with the construction of shoulders, widening of Taxiways and Turning pad of runway East (28), overlay of Apron along with removal and reconstruction of West Apron which is the old British Hardstanding.
Phase 3 includes Air traffic equipment and Ground Handling equipment upgrade with an estimated cost of US$ US$6,257,900 (allocated up to US$10.m for this phase). AIAPL would move towards a combination of debt and equity finance to move with phase three once the construction works have progressed.
Once Phase three is complete the air strip may have characteristics of those envisioned in Stage 2 development Plan of 1983 - Code 4E Precision Approach Runway, Cat 1