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Airports

Ranatunga outlines plans for Sri Lankan infrastructure

11 February 2019

The Sri Lankan government continues to plan new air transport infrastructure growth as the island marks 10 years since the end of its decades-long civil war.Arjuna Ranatunga, Sri Lankan minister of transport and civil aviation. (Neelam Mathews)Arjuna Ranatunga, Sri Lankan minister of transport and civil aviation. (Neelam Mathews)

Airline passenger traffic totalled 8.5 million in 2018 but is forecast to reach 21 million by 2035, said Transport and Civil Aviation Minister Arjuna Ranatunga. “Sri Lanka plans to cater for [expanded] domestic and international aviation and logistics operations,” he said in mid-January during the Global Aviation Summit in Mumbai. He added that “Sri Lanka will prove an attractive proposition for MRO [maintenance, repair, and overhaul]” as this market is expected to double by 2035.

Ratnamala Airport in Colombo (which serves domestic traffic) will be developed into a hub for business jets, and Ranatunga said discussions are under way to develop nine Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) bases into dual-use airports. One is in Palaly, near Jaffna in the formerly war-torn northeast of the country. The airport – to be developed on the site of an existing SLAF airbase – will accommodate airlines operating regional scheduled flights to destinations in southern India, particularly Chennai.

One problem for Ranatunga is the fate of Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport. It was built with the help of Chinese investment as the second-largest airport in Sri Lanka after Bandaranaike International in Colombo.

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