Measures to re-open MRIA for air traffic again | Daily News

Measures to re-open MRIA for air traffic again

The Government would relook at reopening the Mattala International Airport (MRIA) for both local and international air traffic, Board Member of Airport and Aviation, Tilak Weerasinghe said.

Speaking to the ‘Daily News Business,’ he said that although the Airport was abandoned by the previous government, infrastructure that was built is world class and is still in good condition. “Due to the non use of the Airport, the outskirts of the Airport were overgrown with weeds and now they are being cleared.”

Tilak Weerasinghe

Weerasinghe, a successful entrepreneur with over 30 years’ experience in the travel and tourism field, further said that the airstrip is built to accommodate large A380 aircraft. “We would talk to international airlines once again to woo them to operate flights to Sri Lanka.”

The MRIA also offers attractive tax concessions, including discounted landing and parking fees and these would be spelled out again to international airlines. “With several five star hotels in the region, the Airport could be a major attraction for Charters and private jets.”

The Government would also offer this option to the Ratmalana Airport as well.

He said the Government would also explore the option of Indonesia’s leading airline, Sriwijaya Air to operate to MRIA during the Umrah and Hajj season, to attract traffic from the Eastern Province.

“We will also talk to SriLankan and local tour operators and hoteliers to seek their support to turn around MRIA.”

He said that with the ban on domestic passenger flights from Colombo being lifted after 25 years, now helicopters could land at the Defense Ministry Grounds at Galle Face.

Over 25years ago, flights were operated from Ratmalana and Battaramulla and the Government said that the new decision would facilitate the development of the tourism industry around Colombo. Four domestic airline companies had been granted permission.

He also said that according to a news item, a bird had hit an Emirate’s flight that happened nearly three months ago, the outer area had been cleared, ensuring that birds did not fly near the Airport.

According to a report published in 2014 in wildlife control contractors had shot down almost 26,000 birds at the John F. Kennedy International Airport over the past five years to stop them interfering with passenger flights, including more than 1,600 protected birds the Airport did not have express permission to kill, internal records show.

The Ports Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the Airport, was granted limited permission to shoot “problem” species, the report added.

Government authorities by clearing the areas would ensure that the resting places of birds are moved further back and would not have to destroy the birds.

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