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Sri Lankan passport queues introduced at Katunayake Airport

The Immigration Department has introduced queues for Sri Lankan passport holders, based on traffic patterns at the Bandaranaike International Airport. Photo by Gayathri Seneviratne

ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka’s Immigration Department has introduced time-bound seperate queues for Sri Lankan passport holders at the Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake to manage passenger flows at the arrivals terminal, officials said.

Airport and Aviation Services Spokesperson H. S. Hettiarachchi said the new initiative has been implemented for two weeks.

The priority queues for Sri Lankan passport holders become active depending on the composition of passengers in a group of flights which arrive in close succession, an Immigration Department official said.

“Many have been clamouring for a priority lane for Sri Lankan passport holders for some time, but it is not a simple, straightforward matter.”

“This is not a program which can be active 100 percent of the time, because depending on the composition of passengers in the flights, the priority lane could make congestion worse,” the official told EconomyNext.

“We have observed traffic patterns and activate the priority lanes when they are needed,” he said.

Previously, Sri Lanka only had a priority lane for diplomatic and official passports.

Permanent seperate queues for immigration depending on the passport held is common in many parts of the world.

Within South Asia, those travelling on a passport issued by a country that is a part of the Association of South East Asian Nations gains access to a seperate queue.

The situation is similar within the European Union. In many such cases, the queses are bolstered by machines which scan local and regional passports to allow for faster processing times.

However, it is not uncommon for such queues to run longer than those for foreign passport holders.

Depending on the immigration officials present, passengers may switch to a shorter queue of a differing passport type. (Colombo/Jan15/2020)

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