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GMR to hand over Male airport to Maldives govt tonight

The infrastructure major agrees to work with Maldives Airport Company for the next three weeks

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The Maldives government is poised to take over the Male International Airport with agreeing to meet the midnight deadline to hand over the operations after the Indian infrastructure major lost a week-long legal battle.

"MACL will officially take over the operations of the airport at midnight. A handing over ceremony would be held at 11:45 pmat the airport here," President Mohamed Waheed's Press Secretary Masood Imad said.

He said that there would be three-week transition process during which GMR and state-run Maldives Airport Company Limited (MACL) will work together.

"It is going to be a seamless transfer. From tomorrow onwards, the operations of the Ibrahim Nassir International Airport will be undertaken by MACL once again.

"GMR has agreed to work with MACL for the next three weeks or so to help MACL with paperworks and to clear any doubts since the Indian firm was operating the airport for last two years," Imad told PTI.

Terminating the $511 million contract with GMR on November 27, Maldivian government had given time till tonight to the Bangalore-based firm to handover the airport operations.

The handover will take place a day after the Singapore Supreme Court ruled that Maldives government has the "power to do what its wants including expropriating the airport", dealing a severe blow to GMR which had earlier got a temporary reprieve with the Singapore High Court staying the termination.

"In deference to the orders of the Court of Appeals, Singapore, GMR Male International Airport Ltd (GMIAL) will facilitate a smooth takeover of the Ibrahim Nassir International Airport (INIA) by MACL, effective midnight tonight," GMR said in a statement.

The contentious issue saw various twists and turns both on legal and diplomatic fronts with India expressing its strong displeasure over the "unilateral" decision of termination and had conveyed that the move will have an adverse impact on the bilateral ties.

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