Govt. rolls out joint initiative to streamline operations at BIA

Tuesday, 23 November 2021 02:51 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


  • Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga suggests special immigration for tourists, investors, businessmen and expatriate workers
  • Development Coordination and Monitoring Minister Namal Rajapaksa says Govt. to make COVID vaccination card mandatory for all activities
  • State Minister Priyankara Jayaratne moots special program for migrant workers
  • SriLankan Airlines Chairman asserts difficulties are due to new normalisation procedure amidst COVID

An integrated joint program is to be formulated to streamline operations and minimise inconvenience caused to passengers at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) in Katunayake.

Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga yesterday instructed officials to immediately implement these joint programs between the Airport and Aviation Services (Lanka) Ltd., the Department of Immigration and Emigration, Sri Lanka Customs, SriLankan Airlines, and the Health and Tourism Ministries.

He made these remarks at a special meeting to discuss the way forward post-COVID. Development Coordination and Monitoring Minister Namal Rajapaksa, Aviation State Minister D.V. Chanaka, Foreign Employment State Minister Priyankara Jayaratne, and the Heads of Immigration, Customs, Health and Tourism also participated.

Ranatunga said that air traffic congestion could be minimised by coordinating all aspects of the airport and suggested the setting up of a joint management committee, headed by the AASL Chairman, comprising of representatives of all relevant institutions to resolve these issues.

Delays at the Immigration and Emigration counters at the BIA, particularly during peak hours, were discussed. The Tourism Minister suggested that special immigration counters be introduced for tourists, investors, businessmen and expatriate workers. To this, the Controller of Immigration and Emigration agreed to increase the number of relevant officers during rush hours at the airport.

It was pointed out that the number of immigration windows at the Arrivals Terminal had been increased from 25 to 31, whilst the number of emigration windows had been increased from 18 to 23, along with the introduction of new technology.  

Minister Rajapaksa stressed that the Government was currently considering making the COVID vaccination card mandatory for all activities in future. He said that the relevant arrangements had been made and that the Attorney General had given an explanation in this regard to health authorities to take a policy decision.

State Minister Jayaratne stressed the need to set up a special program at the airport for those leaving for and returning from foreign employment. He said this should be implemented without any hindrance. AASL officials said they could make room for the suggestion.

During the lengthy discussion with regard to delays in daily operations at the BIA, SriLankan Airlines Chairman Ashok Pathirage stressed that these difficulties had arisen due to the new normalisation procedure amidst COVID and insisted these issues will be resolved expeditiously.

On the instructions of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, steps were taken last week to expedite the collection of health declarations at the BIA and its progress was also reviewed during the meeting. Health and airport officials said they had taken steps to remove the delays. It was emphasised that the required number of officers had been deployed for this purpose.