MP Namal Rajapaksa said yesterday that the international airport in Mattala, opening today, will have a major boost to the economy in the south as well as to Sri Lanka overall.
“The Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA) will not only benefit the aviation sector; a host of other connected developments within Hambantota will spur the economy of the south and the country at large,” Namal told the Daily FT. “The importance of the Mattala Airport must be viewed in a holistic sense.
The Magampura sea port, the upcoming IT park, new hotel developments, Hambantota as a sports city, etc., are also connected to the overall push to reinvigorate the south and its economic contribution to the country,” emphasised Namal, who has been a key champion of socioeconomic development in the area.
A free-port area encompassing the MRIA and Magampura sea port (17 minutes’ drive between the two) will be launched following the passing of new legislation whilst the Southern Expressway is being extended to Matara and on to Hambantota as well.
There are nine districts and three provinces surrounding Mattala Airport and its success will have a positive impact across with the creation of a new set of industries and entrepreneurs, especially the small and medium scale.
The country’s second international airport, MRIA, with an envisaged investment of $ 330 million will be ceremoniously opened today at 10 a.m. by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The MRIA complex encompasses a total land area of 2,000 hectares, with the first stage taking up only 800 hectares. The latter at present has been utilised with 400 hectares for the main terminal and related facilities and the balance for the planned aviation-related industrial area.
An investment of $ 209 million has gone into the first phase of Stage One, which is due to be opened on 18 March and a further $ 120 million will be spent to complete the phase two of Stage one.
MRIA will initially (as per Stage One) have the capacity to handle one million passengers per annum with two aero bridges and 10 parking bays for aircraft. From day one, i.e. from 18 March, MRIA will be able to handle the super jumbo A380, which the incumbent and flagship Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) cannot accommodate as yet. MRIA will also be able handle 30,000 aircraft movements per annum.
Via Stage 2 to be completed by 2016, MRIA will be expanded to handle five to six million passengers with 15 aero bridges and 20 parking slots for aircraft with 45,000 aircraft movements per annum.
Cargo capacity under stage is 45,000 metric tons and up to 150,000 metric tons under Stage 2.
Together with the on-going expansion at flagship Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake, the country’s overall passenger handling capacity is estimated to be expanded to 21 million by 2016 with Mattala accounting for five to six million passengers. BIA handled seven million passengers last year.