The Supreme Court upheld the decisions of both the High Court and the Civil Court and sided with Villa Group in the Kadedhdhoo Airport case, ruling that the government had unjustly terminated the agreement with the company.
The government and Villa Group signed an agreement in 2013 that states Villa, which is owned by the Jumhooree Party leader and MP Qasim Ibrahim, will operate the Kaadedhdhoo airport for the next 50 years. However, under the previous administration in 2017, the deal was terminated on the grounds that the airport was not operating in accordance with Civil Aviation Authority guidelines.
When Villa Air accused the government of the unjust act, both the High Court and the Civil Court ruled that the deal had been terminated unjustly and that Villa Air was entitled to the airport. The Courts decided that Villa had the right to seek compensation for the damages incurred as a result of the agreement’s termination.
The state then appealed the case to the Supreme Court, which ruled that, while the Civil Aviation Authority had assigned Villa Air the task of amending some aspects of the Kaadedhdhoo airport, the authority did not recommend that the airport be closed, and that, even after the inspection, the Civil Aviation Authority had renewed the airport’s operating license.
Despite the fact that the state provided a Maldivian Company Assessment Report to demonstrate that the airport was functioning in violation of the Civil Aviation Authority’s guidelines, the Court ruled that the document was inadequate. The Court clarified that Villa Air is opposed to approving the report because Maldivian is a competitor, and the people who created the report were not presented or questioned about it.
Furthermore, the Court’s decision called into question the veracity of the claims in the Maldivian report, as Maldivian flights had landed at the Kaadedhdhoo airport even after the report was released.
Kaadedhdhoo airport is currently run by the state-owned Regional Airports Company Limited, which was established in 2020 by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.