Govt. planning to develop BIA


Master plan of new development project(Pic by Nishan S. Priyantha)

By Dasun Edirisinghe

The Bandaranaike International Airport at Katunayake would be developed to cater to 15 million passengers expected in 2020, Chairman of the Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Limited (AASL) Saman Ediriweera said.

Addressing the media at the BIA’s VIP lounge, he said the USD 750 million development project would include the overlay of the existing runway, building a new passenger terminal and new aircraft parking apron.


Ediriweera said the tender process had already been completed in respect of some projects, which would commence next month.

"We are expecting to complete all development work within one year," he said adding that Japan International Cooperation Agency (JAICA) had already agreed to provide funds to build the new terminal.

The AASL Chief said it was a long term need to add the new features to the country’s premier airport, the BIA, but it had been delayed due to several reason during the last few years.

Addressing the media AASL Head of Civil Engineering (Planning and Design) Gnanasiri Vithanage said the BIA was designed in 1983 to handle only 5 million passengers, but at present it coped with 9 million passengers per year with old facilities.

He said no large scale development project had been implemented since 1983, except the construction of new boarding/disembarking piers in 2004. He said the airlines had been asked to re schedule their flights skipping eight hours from 8.30 in the morning during that period.

AASL’s head of Airport Management H.S. Hettiarachchi said that at present around 1,150 flight movements were recorded per week at the BIA, but of them only 121 flights would get cancelled due to closing of the runway for eight hours per day.

Answering a query, he said it was not a massive loss as the project would temporarily affect only 10% of air movements.

Responding to a query that a rush could be created at night time due to closure of the runway in the morning, Hettiarachchi answered in the negative.

He said at present the highest number of air movements at the BIA was 12 departures and 10 arrivals.

"We have the capacity to facilitate that number without any rush during first three months of next year." Hettiarachchi said.

Asked why they could not divert the flights to Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA) without rescheduling them for the night until the BIA runway overlaying was completed, he said it could be done only for charter flights, as most of the other flights had transit passengers who had to catch connecting flights from the BIA.

He said they had already sent charter flights to Mattala and six charter flights landed in MRIA during last month alone.

Vice Chairman of the AASL Ranjith de Silva, Head of Air Navigation Services W.C. Tissera, Head of Fire and Rescue Services Wing Commander Nalin de Alwis Gunasekera and Deputy Head of Air Navigation Services Mahinda Mahamittawa also addressed the media during the visit to BIA on Thursday.

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