The Sunday Leader

Joint venture on Mattala airport delayed

By Easwaran Rutnam


The joint venture between Sri Lanka and India to operate the Mattala Airport has yet to get off the ground.

Sources said that the delay was caused by the Sri Lankan Government.

The Government was expected to push ahead with the deal following the Local Government elections yet there has not been any progress.

India is keen to go ahead with the joint venture but is still awaiting the final proposals of the deal.

Apart from Mattala, India is also keen to invest on several projects in the East yet talks on those projects have also stalled, sources said.

The Government is to give the Mattala International Airport to an Indian company under a Public-Private Partnership (PPP).

The Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA) is the second international Airport in Sri Lanka.

The new international airport inaugurated on March 18, 2013 was expected to expand the local aviation industry whilst being a catalyst for the country’s economic development enabling international trade, tourism, vocational training and employment. It is being implemented as an eco-friendly project.

The first stage of the airport was completed to serve one million passengers per year. However the airport had been suffering major losses since it opened and the new government decided to give it out to a foreign investor to make it more profitable.

The airport employs 550 workers and is only used as an alternative when aircraft cannot fly into Colombo’s international airport.

Faced with a huge white elephant, the authorities last year turned some of the air cargo terminals at the Mattala airport into rice storage to accommodate the bumper harvest in the region.

The Mattala Airport was seen s a “white elephant” project and the unity Government said it will look to convert the project into a profitable entity.

Last September the Indian media reported that  India had raised concerns with Sri Lanka over the delay to implement India backed projects in the island.

Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj who met President Maithripala Sirisena in Colombo last September and discussed bilateral matters, urged Colombo to expedite decision-making on Indian projects.

The Hindu newspaper had reported that in addition to jointly developing a World War-era oil tank in the strategically located eastern port town of Trincomalee, India had expressed interest to operate Sri Lanka’s second international airport in Mattala.

However, New Delhi has been concerned over Colombo’s apparently slow-paced efforts in taking the projects forward.

The joint opposition is against the proposed deal with India on the Mattala airport. The Police and joint opposition clashed in Hambantta last year during a protest against the deal.

2 Comments for “Joint venture on Mattala airport delayed”

  1. What ever venture or projects implimented by MR was a white Elephant stared with the sole aim to fill their pockets, it was never a concern for the sake of the country, MR &Co. made enough & more money which will last for their many more generation to come, Mattala air port was a jungle infested with Wild Elephants, Peacocks ect. even now they visit on & off, it is highly dangerous when planes come to land.

  2. Martin Milton

    Letting India in on this venture was an extremely dangerous move. Trust the present corrupt GOSL to carry out such destabilising acts on their Motherland soil. Those in the GOSL who behave thus in the most antinational manner, do not deserve this beautiful Motherland. Mm

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