ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is planning to draw private aircraft to Ratmalan Airport, fast tracking approvals also allowing high end tourists to reach the capital quickly once Coronavirus controls are relaxed, officials said.
Kimarli Fernando, Chairperson of Sri Lanka Tourism Board said private jets bring tourists to high end destinations like the Maldives.
“Private jet is a good cue for us, I have already spoken with Civil Aviation and they are totally supportive,” Fernando told an online forum organized by Advocata Institute a Colombo-based think tank.
“So private jets will fly into Ratmalana Airport, it will be the fastest turnaround, you’ll be in your car by 15 minutes, probably.”
At the moment it takes about 48 hours for private jets to get approvals while in UK it takes less. Sri Lanka is working towards an 8-hour approval system for private jets, she said.
“So, these are the things we need to look as an industry where we look at particular segments.”
While premium tourists may be useful, low-end tourists bring big benefits in raising income of the people directly, the experience of East Asian nations like Vietnam had shown.
Revenues from high end tourists have to go to pay for billions spent on hotels.
“Ratmalana is predominately used now as a corporate jet airport,” Shehan Sumanasekera, Sri Lanka Airport, and Aviation Operations Director told EconomyNext earlier this year.
He said about fifteen jets roughly arrived at the airport before the COVID crisis.
“The main reason for them to use the airport is for access to Colombo, it is just 14 kilometers as opposed to BIA being about 35 kilometers plus the processing time.”
The civil aviation had planned on upgrading the airport to better suit its consumers.
“At Ratmalana, basically there will be new terminal coming up to better suit corporate jets,” Sumanasekear said.
“Right now the current terminal doesn’t have the facilities to process these aircraft, however, we do it. But we are looking at uplifting the facilities there.”
Ratmalana will also get a better Air Traffic Control system.
He said that they have not drawn up the BOQ’s since they just got (March) the board papers. (Colombo/Apr22/2020-sb)