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Batticaloa airport revives hope for Sri Lanka domestic air travel

ECONOMYNEXT – Direct air connectivity to Sri Lanka’s east could become a reality if domestic air travel takes off after Batticaloa airport in the East is open to civilian air traffic, officials said.

President Maithripala Sirisena opened Baticaloa airport, which was used for military operations until now, with an extended 1500 meter rebuilt runway and passenger terminal on July 10.

Sri Lanka Tourism Chief Paddy Vithana said earlier in the week he hoped tourist dis-embarking from Katunayake would soon be able to take a domestic flight to go to the East.

He said the tourist authorities wanted to encourage travel agents to offer international tickets with a domestic connection.

Sri Lanka’s small private airlines, which operated out of Ratmalana, another airport in Colombo, initially to Jaffna carrying domestic passengers generally went out of business, partly due to competition from the military.

Domestic demand for air travel to Jaffna also fell after a train service with air conditioned coaches started.

At the moment Cinnamon Air, using small floatplanes are operating flights to several destinations using lakes and lagoons to land. (Colombo/July10/2016)

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