In a setback to India's GMR Infrastructure Ltd, the Singapore Court of Appeals today ruled that the Maldives government was within its right to take over the development and operation of Male airport, cancelling the $511 million contract given earlier to a GMR-led consortium .
GMR Male International Airport Pvt Ltd (GMIAL), the consortium of GMR and Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd, had won a stay order from the court on Monday against the Maldives government's order to hand over the airport by Saturday, and for GMR's Indian personnel to leave the archipelago nation by then.
This had led to a standoff between the government and GMIAL, with the consortium insisting that it would continue to operate the airport and the government adamant on the handover.
Today's order would seem to have ended the tussle in Maldives' favour. "The Maldives government has the power to do what it wants, including expropriating the airport," Sundaresh Menon, the Chief Justice of Singapore, said in court.
"The legal path for taking over Male airport has been cleared. The Singapore Court of Appeals has given us the right to take back the airport," Masood Imad, the Maldives' presidential spokesman, said.
"We will take over. We will enrol all those people from GMR who wish to join. Those who don't can go home. By Friday midnight we will take over," Masood said, adding that the Maldives would pay compensation to GMR.