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Sunday, 15 August 2010

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 An artist’s impression of the airport

Hambantota Port opens today:

Airport ready by 2012:

Mattala Airport project takes off

The Hambantota Harbour has made history with the sea water filling ceremony today known as Karadiyawara Mangalyaya, another global landmark is taking shape a few kilometres away.

The project at a glance

* Estimated project cost - US$ 210,000,000 (US Dollars two hundred and ten million)

* Extent of land - 2000 hectares. Initial construction would cover an extent of 800 hectares

*Aerodrome design - The aerodrome will be designed to meet the international specifications

*Runway length - Is proposed as 3500 metres and the width is proposed as 75 metres where new A380 could land.

* Taxiways - Recommended to have a 60 metres long taxiway from the runway centre line to the edge of the apron.

* Apron - 10 parking positions will be provided initially, the pavement of the parking apron - 80

* Airfield capacity - Annual service volume of this aerodrome at short and medium/long-term planning horizons will be 30,000 and 600,000 movements respectively

Terminal and related buildings - Size of which is proposed to be 10,000 square metres to accommodate 800 peak hours and 100 domestic passengers

Hectic work is going on at Mattala where Sri Lanka’s second international airport is being built. It will be one of the biggest airports in south Asia. One may argue that a small country such as Sri Lanka need not have a second airport as Colombo airport could handle the present volume of air traffic.

However, with permanent peace, rich bio diversity and improved tourism infrastructure, Sri Lanka is transforming into one of the best tourist destinations in Asia, anticipating over 2.5 million visitors by 2015.

“Colombo international airport is not in a position to efficiently handle the current volume of air traffic and a second international airport is a must for the country”, said Deputy Minister of Ports and Aviation Dayashritha Tissera.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa unveils the plaque

With the anticipated tourism boom, large double-decked aircraft such as A380 too will land in Sri Lanka. The country cannot meet the present demand.

Since Sri Lanka does not have a second international airport, aircraft flying to Sri Lanka have to carry additional fuel as they have to re route to another country in case of an emergency. Carrying excess aviation fuel is an additional cost for the airline, which will eventually be a burden for the passengers.

We are not building Mattala Airport simply to accommodate emergency flights. There are plans to make it a viable venture,” the Minister said.

In addition to large aircraft the new airport could cater to charter flights as well.

One of Singapore’s success stories is the duty free concession offered to tourists which many Indians exploit for shopping and to take a holiday. There are also tourists who visit Singapore for one night shopping.

Deputy Minister of Ports and Aviation Dayashritha Tissera.

Mattala too is expected to offer a duty free shopping complex similar to Mustapha concept in Singapore with VAT refunds being offered to attract the Indian travellers and tourists from other neighbouring countries. One of the biggest advantages, the Indians would have is that they would be able to save over US$ 200 from airfare as it takes less than one hour to fly to Sri Lanka.

Mattala will also be one of the main routes in the proposed domestic air service, Sri Lanka plans to launch as it can be the domestic regional passenger hub.

Malaysia’s Air Asia which was voted the top low-cost carrier in the world, also uses a separate airport for its operations and Sri Lanka too can use Mattala as a venue for low cost carriers including Mihin Lanka. The airport would be a boon to exporters in the South as they do not have to send their produce to Colombo incurring transport cost and time.

Objectives

* To play a vital and supportive role in the development activity in the Hambantota region and capture market share of the regional traffic growth.

* To promote the Air-Sea-Transshipment Hub operation in conjunction with the Hambantota Harbour

* To be a key component in the development efforts of the Eastern and Southern coasts

* To be an alternate airport to BIA, offering tremendous fuel and weight savings to airlines, resulting an increased passenger and cargo volume throughout the country

* To facilitate the establishment of a gateway for economic and investment infusion into Sri Lanka.

Real estate sector will be one of the first beneficiaries with the rise in demand for airport support services. New hotels and apartments would be in demand. Tourism entrepreneurs could grab new opportunities in such areas as car-rental, restaurants and catering and many other openings never dreamt of before.”

The opening of Mattala International Airport would create over 15,000 employment opportunities and help eliminate poverty progressively in an under privileged area such as Hambantota. The infrastructure facility that would be created would be an asset not only to Hambantota but also to other neighbouring districts.

Construction work in progress

Plans are also under way to have pilot training facilities which brings in additional revenue to the country. “Each commercial aircraft has to take regular technical ‘checks’ and Mattala can be offered as a centre for this and also as maintenance hub,” he said.

Mahinda Chinthana - Randora, underscored the need for a second international airport in Sri Lanka while developing the 13 existing domestic airstrips, thereby providing the nation with a modern air transport network that will support the enormous development activity envisaged within the next five years.

The primary function of the second international airport is to support the mega development activities taking place in the southern region specifically the Hambantota District Development Initiative. It includes setting up an International convention centre, the Hambantota Harbour, an Administrative Complex, Star Hotels, International Stadium, oil refinery and other similar commercial initiatives. Basically it supports the concept of an air-sea transshipment hub, in conjunction with the Hambantota harbour.

Deputy Ministers of Ports and Aviation, Dayashritha Tissera, Rohitha Abeygunawardane, Chairman, Airprot Aviation, Prasanna Wickramasuriya at the site.

Sustainable development is the most crucial element in the creation of this airport which is designed to be eco-friendly.

The successful conclusion of the project will highlight the Government’s efforts and commitment to economic development and in particular the investment strategy of the Greater Hambantota Development initiative.

“We strongly believe that this project will achieve sustainability through sound financial and operational performances while guaranteeing returns on investment,” the Minister said.

 

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