18th January 2012, www.dailynews.lk, By Shirajiv Sirimane
The Colombo International Airport would be upgraded to cater for six million passengers by 2018. This is a 100 percent increase.
Airport Aviation Services Chairman Col. Prasanna Wickramasuriya said that this includes over one million passengers using the Hambantota International Airport (HJA) as well.
He also said that the HIA construction work is on track and the new airport runway testing would start from October and would be open for commercial flights form November.
“The second stage of the HIA project is to be completed by 2018,” he said.
Wickramasuriya said that initially they would target the charter operation and subsequently attract budget airlines to operate to HIA. “With tourism booming many airlines have requested for additional frequencies and we are planning to divert them to HIA,” he said.
HIA has allocated a large space for a proposed duty free shopping complex for the airport and they expect this would bring in a special ‘shopping’ clientele similar to Singapore.
He also disclosed that investors have expressed interest to set up a publishing zone in Mattala.
SriLankan Airlines will look at rerouting some of their European and Gulf flights through the Hambantota International Airport (HIA) from next November CEO, Kapila Chandrasena said.
He said that their plan is to have a stop over in HIA so that passengers could have the option of disembarking in Mattala while passengers too could take connections to Colombo.
“Similarly we are also looking at operating the Male transit market from the proposed Mattala Airport,” he said.
The national carrier will also handle the ground handling and catering services of the new airport. “The handling rates would be definitely more competitive than the Colombo Airport,” he said.
While spelling out plans to have an extension arm of their engineering wing at HIA he said that they will soon sign up to get a second A330 simulator for pilot training.
SriLankan, which is expected to strengthen their air taxi services with two additional aircraft, is to build an air taxi hub in Bandagirlya Tank in Mattala. This would be a five-minute drive from the HIA and a four-lane highway would connect it to the airport.
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