ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s smaller airports are to get upgraded due to the increase in air operations, minister of ports, shipping and aviation Nimal Siripala de Silva said.
Passenger facilities at Palali international airport will be expanded including the expansion of the existing passenger terminal, the establishment of a duty-free shopping mall, increased sanitary facilities, facilities for immigration and customs officials, and increased infrastructure.
“And for this, an estimated amount of 200 million rupees is planned,” a government information department statement said.
At present, an Alliance aircraft carries 60 passengers every day from Chennai, India to Sri Lanka via Palali.
“Due to the increase in air operations in the future, the facilities for passengers arriving and departing from Palali airport should be improved,” the minister said.
In addition to these international flights, domestic flights are also operated.
Every week 4 flights by D P Aviation, and 4 flights by Cinnamon Air are operated from Ratmalana Airport, the statement pointed out.
Other ministers have pointed out the need to develop the civil aviation industry in the country.
If the island is to attract high-end tourism, domestic air transportation has to be developed, tourism minister Harin Fernando said in Parliament earlier this month.
“If we are to attract high-end tourism one thing that has to happen is air transportation. It takes a long time to go to Trinco by road, about 5-6 hours. So domestic travel is something we have to look at seriously, if we are to improve tourism in Sri Lanka,” Fernando said.
State minister of technology Kanaka Herath has said Sri Lanka should jettison regulations dating back from a 30-year civil war period, to develop its domestic aviation sector.
“Our regulations have to be relaxed; Sri Lanka is still operating under war-time regulations,” Herath said in parliament.
“One reason for domestic airline travel not to develop is that our regulations are too tight. We can’t say open skies and then tighten regulations. That would kill our domestic airline industry,” Herath said in parliament speaking on the Civil Aviation Amendment Bill.
“We are focusing on attracting tourists now. If we want to develop domestic flights, we have to protect small domestic carriers.” (Colombo/October23/2023)