Free Landing At Mahinda’s Airport
- $ 200 million dollar investment is a white elephant
By Indika Sri Aravinda
In an attempt to woo international passenger airlines to the new Mattala international airport, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has decided to grant free landing and parking for the airlines during the first year of operations.
The Mattala international airport is scheduled to be opened on November 18 this year, the day the President celebrates his birthday and third anniversary since he took office for the second term. The original deadline was June 2013 but the government has ordered the Chinese construction company to complete construction in time for the President to open it on his birthday.
When The Sunday Leader contacted the Deputy Chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Kamal Ratwatte, he confirmed that four international airlines have already agreed to land at the Mattala airport once it opens.
Emirates, Qatar Airways, Fly Dubai and Japan Airlines have confirmed or are in negotiations to land their flights at the new airport.
He said that these airlines will be given free landing and parking for the first year while SriLankan Airlines will offer 50 percent off on handling fees.
The new airport will have facilities for 10 international passenger airlines and the government hopes to record 1 million passengers during the first year and 6 million during the second year of operations.
Ratwatte said that the total cost for the construction of the new airport was approximately US Dollars 209 million.
A new five star hotel is also to be constructed near the airport to cater to the passengers and will be operated by a Malaysian company.
The airport is being constructed on 800 hectares of land under the first phase of the project.
The main terminal building, under construction will have facilities for 1000 passengers at peak time. It will be able to handle one million passengers annually.
Meanwhile when contacted by The Sunday Leader Civil Aviation Minister Priyankara Jayaratne said that the Katunayake airport will not be closed at any cost as a result of the opening of the new airport.
Environmentalists meanwhile said that the airport was constructed causing serious violations to environmental laws. Coordinator of the Green Movement, Banduranga Kariyawasam said that the airport is constructed blocking an elephant path way.