ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena opened Jaffna as an international airport with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe welcoming a Bombardier ATR 72 aircraft from India’s Alliance Air as the first foreign flight.
For Alliance Air, a unit of state-run Indian airlines, the run to Jaffna was its maiden international flight.
In March 24, 2004, India’s Air Sahara, flew to Colombo, in the first international flight of a private Indian airline.
India allowed private airlines to fly abroad following a request by Sri Lanka’s then reformist government which abolished visas between the two countries.
The administration, headed by current Prime Minister Wickremesinghe was the island’s last reformist administration, which triggered reforms not only in Sri Lanka but the region.
As a result India became Sri Lanka’s largest tourism generating market, all private Indian airlines were also allowed by India to travel to Nepal and later other international destinations.
In perhaps the only real liberalization done by the current administration, Sri Lanka has said it is giving 6th freedom and beyond passenger and cargo rights for airlines operating to Jaffna.
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Sri Lanka spent 1.9 billion rupees to make the Jaffna airport runway ready for ATR flight and India also contributed 300 million rupees.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said more investments will be made for the airport to be able to accommodate Airbus A320 size aircraft.
India’s High Commissioner to Colombo Taranjit Singh Sandhu said Chennai Jaffna flights was a reflection to further strengthen people-to-people ties between India and Sri Lanka, which lies at the heart of the bilateral relationship. (Colombo/Oct16/2019)