Maldives, on Tuesday, asked GMR-led consortium GMR Male’ International Airport Pvt. Ltd. (GMIAL) to surrender control of the Male airport and handover the management to state-run Male Airport Corporation Ltd (MACL) by Saturday for a smooth transition.

Maldives, on Tuesday, asked GMR-led consortium GMR Male’ International Airport Pvt. Ltd. (GMIAL) to surrender control of the Male airport and handover the management to state-run Male Airport Corporation Ltd (MACL) by Saturday for a smooth transition.

But GMR made it clear that it had legal backing to continue operation.

The chief executive officer (CEO) of GMIAL, Andrew Harrison, in a statement, said that the acting Transport Minister, who was also the Defence Minister, called on him at the Male’ airport on Tuesday and asked him that MACL would operate the airport from Saturday morning in line with the Government of Maldives communication to the consortium.

“The Minister wanted a smooth transition as the airport operations should not be affected, and suffer in any way. Passengers should not be inconvenienced and, therefore, all activities would be allowed to continue as is,” Mr. Harrison said.

The meeting was attended by the Acting Transport Minister, the Chairman of Maldives Civil Aviation Authority, GMR’s lawyer in Maldives and three members of MNDF.

“According to their legal advisors, the injunction issued by Singapore High Court does not prevent them from taking over the airport, and the injunction cannot be applied to a sovereign state. They proposed offering 100 per cent employment in MACL to all staff currently working for GMIAL, and an announcement to that effect would be made tomorrow (Wednesday) by the MACL board.

The offer included both local and foreign staff at their existing terms and conditions, including salary,” Mr. Harrison said.

However, GMIAL made it clear that it would continue.

“The injunction clearly prevents Maldives from taking the action outlined in their notice issued to us stating that the airport would be taken over at the end of the 7-day period. We remain resolute in our position, and there is no question of an offer being made and certainly no question of any alleged offer being accepted as we will simply not agree to our rights nor the injunction being undermined in any way,” the GMIAL CEO said.

He said GMIAL’s lawyer clarified that the injunction was to be honoured.

“The Acting Transport Minister explained that he was not a legal person and he would, therefore, arrange for his legal team to meet our lawyer tomorrow (Wednesday) to discuss the legal matters and in the meantime he stated that we should maintain dialogue,” Mr. Harrison said.

“We will always maintain dialogue but our legal position is very clear and we will not compromise on our legal position which is clearly supported by the injunction,” he added.