President Mahinda Rajapaksa will commission Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport on March 18. This is the second International Airport in Sri Lanka and the first ever Sri Lankan International Airport to be operated as an International Airport ‘from the day of commencing operations’, Civil Aviation Minister Priyankara Jayaratne said.
He was addressing a special press briefing at the Civil Aviation Ministry yesterday in connection with awarding International Airport Certification (certifications of compliance and certification of aerodrome) to the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport. Minister Jayaratne said the BIA commenced operations in 1963, but received international status in 1968.
The Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport will be an International Airport from the first day of commencing operations.
This airport is not an experiment. It is a significant landmark in the journey of Sri Lanka towards becoming the aviation hub in Asia under Mahinda Chinthanaya – Vision for the Future.
The airport has a one million passenger handling capacity.
Minister Jayaratne pointed out that the second phase of the development project will commence after March 18 which will give a handling of nine million passenger capacity by June 2015. After completion of its second phase, the Mattala international airport will handle five million passengers.
Once all development projects are completed, Sri Lanka’s International Airports will have the capacity of handling 21 million passengers annually.
Minister Jayaratne stressed that when the LTTE attacked the BIA, Sri Lanka lost billions of rupees due to flights being rerouted to India because Sri Lanka did not have another International Airport.
A similar situation will not arise hereafter.
Sri Lanka signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Lufthansa to set up a aircraft maintenance centre. This would bring a significant amount of income to Sri Lanka.
“The Opposition always saw the entire project from a negative point of view and made fun out of it. It did not stop there. They even tried to create religious conflicts in connection with expanding project.
The opposition spread fabricated stories stating that the Government will close down the BIA,” the Minister added.
“The Sri Lanka Civil Aviation Authority is in 19 place among 181 countries in the world, fourth place among 34 countries in the Pacific region and first place in South Asia, in it capability and carrying out its services/duties.
The certificates had been awarded to Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport after conducting careful study for over two years on all functions, operations and human resources of the airport, connected institutions and services.
The Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport is capable of handling any emergency situation.
Civil Aviation Deputy Minister Geethanjana Gunawardena, Civil Aviation Ministry Secretary Dr. Ravindra Ruberu, Sri Lankan Airlines Chairman Nishantha Wickremesinghe, Civil Aviation Authority Chairman Gen. Rohan Daluwatte, Civil Aviation Director General H.M.C.Nimalsiri, Airport and Aviation Services Chairman Prasanna Wickramasuriya also spoke.
(Courtesy: Daily News)