Sri Lanka’s third and newest international airport, the Jaffna International Airport (JIA), commenced international commercial flight operations from today.
The inauguration of operations was initiated by Alliance Air, a subsidiary of Air India, as it begins scheduled flights weekly from Jaffna to Chennai.
This occasion also marks a milestone in Sri Lankan aviation history, with local operator FITS Aviation becoming the first privately owned local airline licensed by the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka to operate internationally. The airline will operate scheduled and charter flights from JIA to Chennai and Tiruchirappalli International Airports in South India.
Speaking on the momentous occasion, Dammika Ranatunga, Chairman of Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Limited, said, “We are extremely proud of JIA’s transformation. After decades of non-operation, it will now contribute greatly to the Sri Lankan economy by boosting tourism opportunities and increasing investment prospects in the hospitality sector.”
Many Sri Lankans travel year-round to India mainly on Pilgrim Tourism. Further, travellers from India to Sri Lanka are increasing as India continues to generate the highest number of tourists for Sri Lanka. The commencement of international flights between Jaffna and South India will reduce costs by nearly 50 percent for thousands of local and international travellers, and save them valuable travel time as they can now travel via Jaffna as opposed to the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA).
“Sri Lanka is ranked as 1st for aviation safety in South Asia and the 19th globally by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in respect of effective implementation of international standards relating to aviation safety. All employees serving in the JIA’s safety and security are highly trained and majority of them have been transferred from the BIA to maintain the same standards,” added Ranatunga.
Under the guidance of the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka, JIA’s extensive redevelopment programme began earlier this year with an investment of almost LKR 1 billion by the Government of Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile, the Governor of the Northern Province Dr. Suren Raghavan flew on Alliance Air AL 9I 102 from the Jaffna International Airport to Chennai, India today.
Raghavan said he expects the new airport to create new relationships as well as trade links between the two countries.