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Sri Lanka’s Mattala airport supports ship crew changes in Coronavirus battle

VACANT AIRPORT: Sri Lanka has closed airports for arrivals during the Coronavirus outbreak.

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Mattala Airport is facilitating crew changes along with the ports strengthening the island’s position as a logistics hub as a Coronavirus crisis is crippling global shipping and aviation, officials said.

“Last week we got a special flight coming in to Mattala airport with 224 passengers for a specific requirement and we are getting another flight next week too,” G A Chandrasiri, Chairman of Sri Lanka Airport and Aviation Services said at an online forum organized by National Chamber of Commerce.

On May 3, a Boeing aircraft carrying landed at Mattala Airport with 224 crew members for a ship docked at Galle Port.

“Internationally we have understood that it (Mattala) is a good destination to for us to do these transfers,” Chandrasiri said.

“We are going to use Mattala airport for this requirement”.

Sri Lanka is developing plans to boost activity at Mattala Airport with benefits to draw customers in.

On May 20, another aircraft is scheduled to come in as part of a crew transfer. Officials say a ship passes Sri Lanka’s southern coast every six minutes.

New business opportunity 

“It’s a new area of business because of this COVID-19 situation,” Shehan Sumanasekara Director (Operations) Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) told EconomyNext.

“We identified this, and we immediately assisted this aircraft to come to Mattala. If we continue to do that, we suspect it will be a very good revenue for the country and the companies around. So we are very keen on developing that business”.

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He said that crew changes for vessels have been very difficult due to a lack of connecting flights as a result of many airports in the region being closed.

Airport and Aviation Services is also talking with maritime specialists to see how best they could work together with the ports to provide services to the global logistics sector.

Sri Lanka is also allowing transit passengers at the main airport in Colombo. Mattala airport is also eyeing aircraft parking.

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Sri Lanka has been aggressively contact tracing and quarantining Coronavirus cases and has kept down infections within the country.

The island completely killed a Wave I in January from China and is now battling Wave II arrivals from third countries. (Colombo/May14/2020-sb)

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