Sri Lanka’s second international airport was declared open in Mattala today by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The Mahinda Rajapaksa International Airport (MIA) was built using financial assistance from the Chinese government.
Stage one of the project will cater for 1 million passengers, 45,000Mt of cargo per annum and 10 parking stands for a mix of aircraft range of narrow to wide body.
All associated infrastructure and utilities are being developed to facilitate the airport operations. Stage two is planned to enhance the capacity to 5 million passengers, 100,000Mt of cargo per annum and 16 parking stands.
The first stage of the airport which was declared open today consists of the basic aerodrome facilities, runway, apron, taxi way, passenger and cargo terminals.
Access roads, accommodation for officials, fuel farm, sewerage treatment plant, water supply facilities, meteorological building, fire building, catering facility and a car park have also been completed.
The second stage of the project will see a full length parallel taxi way, a flying school, an airport hotel and recreational facilities being constructed.
Meanwhile the AFP news agency reported that Sri Lanka is turning its newest international airport into a tax-free zone to attract aviation-related industries.
Talks were under way to set up aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul operations at the US$209 million airport located near wildlife sanctuaries in the island’s southeast, airport chairman Prasanna Wickremasuriya said.
The airport can accommodate Airbus A-380, the biggest passenger liner in service, and is part of ambitious plans to turn the district of Hambantota, the home constituency of President Mahinda Rajapakse, into the new commercial capital of Sri Lanka.
“We can be a regional hub for aircraft maintenance. Negotiations are on with a big European operator to set up a facility at Mattala,” Wickremasuriya said.
The airport has already been awarded the international compliance certificate for its operation.
“This is the first ever Sri Lankan International Airport to be operated as an International Airport from the day one of its commencement of operations”, Civil Aviation Minister Piyankara Jayaratne said.
The BIA airport in Katunayake commenced operations in 1963 but received international status in 1968. (Colombo Gazette)