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Airport and hotel project on Fainu island, Maldives

A new airport threatens to wreak ecological destruction on Fainu Island. A long stretch of white sand coastline, dense forest and agricultural land are at risk. Residents opposing the development established the #SaveFainu campaign.


Residents of Fainu are concerned that a new airport and hotel project, suddenly announced at the end of May 2018, will swallow up most of their island. The concept drawing shows the development taking up about two-thirds of the island land area with the airport runway extending along the entire southern coastline. The Maldives Independent calculated that 31 hectares of vegetation would be lost, an area equivalent to 57 football fields and encompassing a dense jungle area and agricultural land. Land earmarked for a gated hotel is shown on the concept layout as an area adjacent to the airport.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Airport and hotel project on Fainu island, Maldives
State or province:Raa Atoll
Location of conflict:Fainu island
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Tourism facilities (ski resorts, hotels, marinas)
Ports and airport projects
Building materials extraction (quarries, sand, gravel)
Specific commodities:Land
Sand, gravel
Project Details and Actors
Project details

A domestic airport is planned on Fainu island, to serve existing and planned tourism resorts on Raa Atoll. Universal Enterprises, one of the largest hospitality companies in the Maldives operating several resorts on Raa Atoll, is financing Fainu Airport through bulk purchase of advance sales of air tickets. In May 2018 Island Aviation Services, owner and operator of Maldivian, the government-owned largest carrier in the Maldives, was awarded the US$8 million contract to develop and operate the airport. Construction of Fainu Airport was scheduled to begin in August 2018.[11] The three-phase construction project was scheduled to be completed in 12 months.[3] Rejection of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on 14th November 2018 is likely to stall the project.[9] The airport plan covers about 31 hectares of land and also includes about 4 hectares of land reclamation.[1]

Project area:35
Level of Investment for the conflictive project8,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:Approximately 400 residents
Start of the conflict:11/06/2018
Company names or state enterprises:Universal Enterprises from Maldives - Universal Enterprises has funded Fainu Airport project through advance prucahse of air tickets
Island Aviation Services Limited (IAS) from Maldives - Awarded the contract to construct and operate Fainu Airport
Water Solutions from Maldives - Prepared EIA for Fainu Airport that was rejected by the EPA
Relevant government actors:National government of the Maldives
Ministry of Tourism (Maldives)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:SaveMaldives -
ECOCARE Maldives -
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Social movements
Forms of mobilization:Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Desertification/Drought
Health ImpactsPotential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Other environmental related diseases
Other Health impactsHealth problems caused by pollutants emitted by aircraft
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Strengthening of participation
Application of existing regulations
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Fainu Airport project could be stalled following the decision by the Environment Protection Agency to reject the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) following campaigns and protests by residents and NGOs.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

[7] ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSSESSMENT For the Development of a Domestic Airport in Fainu, Raa Atoll, Maldives, water Solutions PV. Ltd., November 2018
[click to view]

[9] Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rejects Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for Fainu Airport, 14 November 2018
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[6] Irreversible Damage, Destruction and Loss in the Maldives, #Save Maldives, 5June 2018
[click to view]

[1] Swathes of jungle to be destroyed in Fainu airport project, Maldives Times, 2 June 2018
[click to view]

[2] Raa Atoll Fainu Airport Development Lease Honoured to Island Aviation Services, The Islandchief, 31 May 2018
[click to view]

[3] Public petition against Fainu airport project, Avas, 3 July 2018
[click to view]

[4] Raa Atoll airport project handed over to Island Aviation, Maldives Independent, 31 May 2018
[click to view]

[5] Fainu airport plan draws anger and defiance, Maldives Independent, 3 July 2018
[click to view]

[8] Fainu islanders sceptical of environmental impact assessment, Maldives Independent, 13 November 2018
[click to view]

[10] Environmental impact assessment for Fainu airport rejected, Maldives Independent, 15 November 2018
[click to view]

[11] Construction of R.Fainu Airport scheduled to start in August, Corporate Maldives, 5 July 2018
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Facebook - SaveFainu
[click to view]

Twitter - SaveFainu
[click to view]

SaveFainu submits petition on 3rd July 2018, photo album by Dying Regime on Flickr
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Rose Bridger, Stay Grounded, email: [email protected]
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:3659
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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