BIA grandeur accomplished before target date | Sunday Observer

BIA grandeur accomplished before target date

The reduction in passenger movements and passengers handled during the resurfacing of the runway at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) has had no major negative impact on the country, Airport and Aviation Services Ltd. Chairman, Saman Ediriweera said.

He said, the difference in the reduction of passengers handled during January to February in 2016 and 2017 has been 5.25%, while in aircraft movements, the difference in the reduction of aircraft handled during the same period has been around 16.7%.

“Therefore, when considering the importance of the runway resurfacing, and its expected future economic benefit to the country, it has not made a considerable negative impact to the economy,” Ediriweera said.

He said, Airport and Aviation Services Ltd. embarked on the colossal task of resurfacing the runway at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA), the country’s key international airport.

The contract for the ‘Overlaying’ was awarded on September 1, 2016 to China National Aero Technology International Group (CATIG)and Shanghai New Era Airport Design, both credited under the Civil Aviation Authority of China.

The contract was to overlay the runway and the construction of associated works on a ‘design and build’ basis, and the cost of the project is estimated at USD 50 million.

The project comprises: Upgrading of runway to modified Code ‘F’ compliance; upgrading of the aerodrome Ground Lighting of runway and taxiway system of BIA to CAT II as per ICAO; new installation to be energy efficient LED Light system; surface movement guidance system to the runway and taxiway systems; new airfield light control and monitoring system; all runway markings to be as per ACI new addition; and capacity of runway system enhanced to meet the next 20 year growth . “The runway width has been expanded by 15 metres, (7.5 metres on both sides) enabling A380 aircraft to land successfully,” Ediriweera said. The Netherlands Airport Consultants (NACO), was the design and supervision consultant of the runway when it was constructed and commissioned under the Phase 1 Development Project of Colombo International Airport in 1986. The runway was closed for operations from 8.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. considering the comparatively low traffic volumes during the said period, as well as, to minimize passenger inconvenience.

Good proactive planning by the Design and Planning Division in coordination with the Air Traffic Control Division, Airport Management Division, Electrical Engineering Division and other relevant divisions of the Airport Aviation Services Ltd, the Civil Aviation Authority, SriLankan Airlines, AOC, Government Agencies etc. led to create a detailed spontaneous commercially feasible operation during the period of construction. 

The construction of the overlay work commenced on January 6, 2017.

The daunting task of operations during this period was managed while ensuring a correct level of security and safety within the airport premises, with minimum hassle to passengers, airlines and cargo operations,” Ediriweera said.

Seeing the national requirement, a remarkable service was comprehended by all stakeholders involved, such as the Customs, Immigration, Srilankan Airlines, AOC, Sri Lanka Air Force, Sri Lanka Police Katunayake/BIA, State Intelligence Service (SIS) , Criminal Investigation Department (CID), and Foreign Employment Bureau.

The exemplified combined collaboration of the above agencies made it clear that the Aviation industry of Sri Lanka had no barriers in accomplishing great feats.

The collective work synergy is the result of the main runway being ready for 24 hour operation even before the estimated date of 5 April 2017, the overlay complete and the BIA grandeur in order, in facilitating all operations.

Aircraft traffic

It is important to note that an updated rescheduled staff roster duties facilitated all 16 immigration departure counters to be operational during the construction period, while two Fast Track Immigration counters created passengers’ check-in within one hour from departure.

During the period of the runway closure, both, inbound and out bound aircraft traffic movements were accommodated by Sri Lanka’s two other international airports. The Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA) and the Colombo Airport Ratmalana (RMA) were fully geared to facilitate connectivity of airlines during this period.

All business jet aircraft movements during the closure were handled by the Colombo Airport, Ratmalana.

The procedure for safety evaluation for closing and re-opening of the runway was carried out by the contractor. This procedure was also evaluated by the consultants and AASLsafety team and submitted to DGCA for approval.

The Civil Aviation Authority closely monitored the approval procedures, to ensure that procedures were followed and resurfacing standards met, and that all procedures implemented during the period of construction are the same in order to enhance efficiency of the airport operations. And so, this is one of the most successful projects in the region, of this nature.

Ediriweera said, to ensure efficient security clearance process , Sri Lanka Air Force was well-organized, assigning adequate personnel for baggage screening in all screening points, and providing additional scanners to ensure that aircraft and passengers are fully screened with no breach of security.

The Mahinda Rajapaksa Internatioanl Airport and the Ratmalana Airport handled flights during the closure of the BIA.

“The Ratmalana Airport attracted many smaller aircraft during this period and made arrangements for smooth passenger operations. The airport also attracted more commercial flights,” Ediriweera said.