President orders fast- tracking of BIA expansion

Saturday, 3 October 2020 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Rs. 108 b expansion to be completed by 2023
  • Repeated delays cause danger of making design features obsolete 
  • Basil Rajapaksa proposes “Smart Terminal” upgrades 
  • E-Gate facilities to be introduced to assist passengers    
  • Mattala sees uptick in flight operations; 
  • SriLankan to increase to daily flights 
  • Govt. revisits flight school option; development of Ratmalana Airport planned   

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has instructed officials to complete the Rs. 108 billion extension of the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) before the end of 2023, the President’s Media Division said yesterday. 

Construction of the second terminal, which began in 2014, was scheduled for completion in 2017. Experts in the field have pointed out that many features of the design have now become obsolete due to the numerous delays in the construction. At the beginning of last month the Government began the biggest component of the expansion. 

Presidential Task Force on Economic Revival Head Basil Rajapaksa was quoted in the statement saying that it should be developed as a “Smart Terminal” with all technological facilities to suit the year 2023.

The President made these remarks at a discussion held at the Presidential Secretariat on 30 September on the future activities of the State Ministry of Aviation and Export Zones Development.

The course of action that should be taken in the face of adverse impact on the airports and airlines caused by the disruption in the airline industry due to the COVID-19 outbreak was discussed in detail.

President Rajapaksa instructed the authorities to complete the construction work of the airport as early as possible by working day and night, utilizing the opportunity created by the disruption of airport operations, the statement added. 

Annually over 15 million passengers will be facilitated with services and mission control following the completion of the second terminal. Arrivals and Departures will commence to operate as two separate terminals with the construction of the 2nd terminal at BIA. It has been planned to install e-Gate facilities to ensure a smooth and efficient service for passengers.

In addition, a parking space for passengers will be constructed adjacent to the airport. 

Meanwhile Mattala Airport has handled 270 flight operations since this January, facilitating over 12,000 passengers. The PMD statement said Sri Lankan Airlines has planned to operate 07 flights per week in the future.

The need to provide hotel accommodation with maximum facilities for flight crew in the vicinity of the Mattala airport was also discussed in the meeting.

Plans have been devised to expand the Ratmalana Airport with the installation of the latest technological facilities. Special attention was paid to promote Sandhathanna, Seethaeliya and Digana for internal flight operations focusing on the Central Province.

President Rajapaksa instructed the officials to establish a Flight school in collaboration with the Civil Aviation Authority and Sri Lankan Airlines to train novice pilots. The President added that foreign students should be allowed to train as well. 

The BIA expansion is a two-part project consisting of ‘Package A’ and ‘Package B’ funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The Japanese Government has provided a loan of Japanese Yen 74,397 million, while Airport and Aviation Services (Lanka) Ltd. will invest Rs. 21,645 million for the project.

The contract relating to the Phase II of ‘Package A’ of the BIA, was awarded to Taisei Corporation for a total value of Japanese Yen 41.55 billion and Rs. 35.15 billion in March this year. 

The improvements of ‘Package A’ include; buildings connected to the main terminal building, passenger bridges, storm water drainage system, elevated roads, electricity, water supply, a sewage disposal system, combustion engines, integrated machinery and a five-storey car park.