BIA Phase II development project launched | Sunday Observer

BIA Phase II development project launched

22 November, 2020
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga, Aviation and Export Zones Development State Minister D. V. Chanaka and Japanese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Akira Sugiyama at the commencement of Phase II of the Bandaranaike International Airport Expansion Project
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga, Aviation and Export Zones Development State Minister D. V. Chanaka and Japanese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Akira Sugiyama at the commencement of Phase II of the Bandaranaike International Airport Expansion Project

Opening new vistas of prosperity and re-writing the history of aviation in Sri Lanka, the much awaited and long overdue Phase II of the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) Expansion Project commenced on Wednesday.

It was launched by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. The commencement of the project coincided with the first year anniversary of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Presidency and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s 75th birthday.

The largest development work to be launched in the country this year, the project aims at fulfilling the aviation travel needs of Sri Lankans for years to come. The US $ 306 million project will improve facilities at the BIA to cope with increasing air traffic demand after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Second terminal

The new multi-level passenger terminal building will increase the passenger handling capacity of the BIA to around 15 million passengers per year. Plans are under way to complete the construction work on the second terminal within three years.

While using Japanese advanced technology and expertise, the building will provide barrier-free access and environmentally friendly features benevolent to the people and nature. The two-part project consisting of ‘Package A’ and ‘Package B’ is funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The Government of Japan has provided a loan of 74,397 million Yen (Rs. 131.5 billion) for the project.

Japan has extended assistance for the development of the BIA through expansion and refurbishment of facilities in different phases since 1981. In March 2016, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed a loan agreement worth 45.42 billion Yen with a 40-year repayment period to support the new terminal construction and associated work. It previously provided a loan of 28.96 billion Yen for the detailed design of the BIA expansion.

Japanese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Akira Sugiyama said that as it edges closer to the 70th anniversary of Japan-Sri Lanka diplomatic relations next year, the BIA project stands as an icon of friendship between Japan and Sri Lanka,. “This investment will further consolidate long-standing economic relations between the two countries,” he said.

As per the master plan of the BIA construction project, the airport was designed to be executed in two phases. Construction work on the first stage of the BIA was completed and opened for the public in 1985.

However, the first terminal of the BIA could only handle about six million passengers. Although three decades have lapsed since the completion of the first terminal of the BIA, the second terminal which was included in the master plan could not be accomplished yet, although many attempts have been made by successive governments.

Transforming global needs

Aviation and Export Zones Development State Minister D. V. Chanaka said that the top of his agenda was to push for Stage 2 of the BOI project. “Sri Lanka’s main international airport, the BIA badly needed to expand the capacity to meet travel needs. It also needed to be modified to suit the rapidly transforming global needs,” he said.

“A steep rise in the number of passengers using air for their travel is looked ahead when the lifestyles of people revert to normalcy once the covid-19 pandemic comes to an end. Our objective is to cater to this increasing aviation and tourism service requirements. Steps will also be taken to enhance the functionality of the key areas, such as efficiency of customer service and staff as well as the safety of passengers during stage,” the State Minister said.

“President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa aspire to make Sri Lanka the most vibrant Aviation Hub of South Asia. The Ministry strives to elevate the BIA to international standards to realise that aspiration,” he said.

“We will execute this development project as an environmental-friendly ‘green’ development project. The proposed multi-level terminal which expands over 180, 000 square metres will consist of separate departure and arrival terminals to make the airport more passenger-friendly,” State Minister Chanaka said.

The project will be launched using the latest technological expertise, which enables the execution of the project in an environment-friendly manner. “The deployment of advanced technology will help save 40 percent of water and 20 percent of energy which make this project a truly ‘green’ development.”

“We will equip the new terminal with the latest smart technological systems on the instructions of President Rajapaksa,” the State Minister said.

A five-storied parking facility will be built to facilitate those who use the airport. All entry roads to the BIA will be developed as a part of this project and infrastructure facilities in the environment of the airport will be developed.

Administered by Airport and Aviation Services, the BIA recently installed the latest X-ray machines worth US$ 331,220 to upgrade its baggage screening facilities.

Passenger convenience

The advanced X-Ray machines will ensure passenger convenience by increasing the baggage screening throughput and reducing passenger wait times and increasing security as well.

Steps will be taken to offer more concessions and facilities to exporters who use air cargo taking locally manufactured products to the international markets, under the development plan.

The BIA development project will also open opportunities for entrepreneurs and is expected to create a large number of employment. State Minister Chanaka said that the Mattala Mahinda Rajapaksa International Airport too will be upgraded to handle more passengers and cargo.

Regional airports too will be developed to fulfill domestic aviation requirements with emphasis laid on the development of Sri Lanka’s first airport, Ratmalana.

“We will also see a substantial growth in the economy linked to the aviation field with the fruition of these development projects,” the State Minister said.

Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga was also present.