Palali picked over Mattala: SLPP

Tuesday, 19 February 2019 00:07 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Questions Govt. plans to upgrade Palali into an international airport
  • Says Govt. earlier dismissed the need for a second international airport 
  • Suggests it would be cheaper to make Mattala viable than developing Palali 
  • Asks what policy basis is being used to establish international airports


Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) yesterday questioned why the Government was planning to upgrade the Palali Airport to international standard when it opposed the construction of the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA) and has done little to make it a viable venture.

During the Prime Minister’s recent visit to the North plans to develop Palali Airport as an international airport was discussed with Rs. 20 billion investment earmarked for the project. The SLPP contended that the Government had earlier rejected the Mattala Airport by saying there was no need for a second international airport in the country and questioned why they were trying to upgrade Palali without first making Mattala viable. 

“It is very surprising, why suddenly the Government wants to develop Palali Airport in Jaffna as an international airport when they were so clearly against Mattala,” MP Rohitha Abeygunawardena told reporters at party headquarters. 

He questioned why the Government was looking at a third international airport when MRIA remained unused, especially given the investment already made. “It is absurd why they want another international airport when they were so dismissive of MRIA that they actually used it to store paddy,” he added. 

Abeygunawardena said that he would not oppose developing Palali Airport but the Government’s previous stance on international airports showed policy inconsistencies. He questioned how the Government had decided that Palali was more viable than Mattala and whether the investment being considered would get the best return.  

“It is always good to have an international airport in the Northern part of the country. But it must be backed by a genuine intention to develop the Northern Province rather than wasting public funds. The Mattala Airport was built with a lot of funds and the Government has a responsibility to make sure that the most is made of that project. It may be cheaper to make Mattala viable, than to upgrade Palali into an international airport.”  

The Government has announced it will upgrade the Palali Airport so that it can handle A 320 and A321 aircraft. The project will cost Rs. 20 billion.