Japan lends $400 Million to Sri Lanka for airport expansion

Bandaranaike International Airport

Japan has loaned $400 million to Sri Lanka to build a new terminal at the island’s main international airport which suffers congestion from growing tourism, it was announced today.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) said the second terminal would more than double capacity to 15 million passengers annually.

The terminal, to be opened in 2020, would use solar energy and recycled water from a sewage plant for the flushing of toilets, JICA said in a statement.

“The project would be developed based on the concept of (an) eco-airport with Japanese advanced technology and know-how,” JICA said.

The loan, with 0.1 per cent annual interest, is repayable over 40 years, JICA said, adding that the agreement with Sri Lanka’s government was concluded last week.

Built to accommodate six million passenger movements a year, Bandaranaike International Airport currently has 8.5 million travellers arriving and departing, causing congestion at check-in and baggage claim at peak times.

Foreign tourist numbers have increased rapidly since the island’s separatist war ended in May 2009, attracting 1.7 million visitors last year.

Colombo is also a transit hub for passengers from the Indian subcontinent travelling to Europe and the Far East.

Sri Lanka’s second international airport which opened in 2013 in the south, about 240 kilometres (150 miles) by road from Colombo, near wildlife sanctuaries has become a white elephant serving just one flight a day.

Built by former president Mahinda Rajapakse in his home constituency of Hambantota, the airport is also facing problems from encroaching herds of wildlife which threaten to wander on to the runway, posing a danger to aircraft, AFP reports.