“No tangible results from Rs. 1 Bn grant for JAF development” | Daily News

“No tangible results from Rs. 1 Bn grant for JAF development”

Govt. reduces embarkation tax of Jaffna and Mattala airports by 50%

Sri Lanka Tourism has presented Rs. one billion to the Airport and Aviation Services to develop the Jaffna International Airport (JAF) but no tangible results are seen, said Chairman Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority Priantha Fernando.

He said that this money was allocated from the Tourism Development Levy in a bid to upgrade the JAF and mainly to extend its runway to accommodate large aircraft. Currently, JAF can only accommodate smaller ATR aircraft with a maximum capacity that could carry around 75 passengers.

“Aim of our presentation of Rs. one billion to AASL was to ensure mainly that the runway could be extended to accommodate larger aircraft like A-330’s.”

This will in turn attract larger aircraft and increase arrivals to the North thereby kick-starting Northern tourism.

“It will also encourage cargo operations which for the first time will allow Jaffna farmers to directly export their products and for the first time in history earn US dollars.”

He also said that to meet the high demand at the Jaffna airport they also propose to have two duty free shops in the departure and arrival area.

“If the AASL keeps on cold shouldering development of JEF we have no option other than to pull out this investment of Rs. one billion.”

Already Alliance Air a wholly-owned subsidiary of Air India operates a thrice week frequency between Chennai and Jaffna and this flight is maintaining over 90% load factor. “A fourth flight by this airline is on the cards soon to meet the increased demand.”

Due to the temporary suspension of the Jaffna Colombo train service for urgent repair of the rail track we have requested Alliance air to explore the possibility of introducing a stopover flight to Ratmalana.

“In addition we will make a similar request for the Air Force to explore the possibility of recommencing their Ratmalana Jaffna flight operated by Heli Tours. He also disclosed that the government has decided to reduce the embarkation tax and landing charges at both the Mattala (MRIA) and Jaffna International Airport (JAF) with immediate effect.

“We have reduced the landing charges of both MRIA and JAF airports by 50%. This will be effective for two years. In addition the embarkation tax which was at USD 60 has been reduced by 50%.”

He said that this facility is not offered to Katunayake International Airport. “However we can consider offering this same or similar concession to Ratmalana airport when requests are made in this regard.”

Fernando said that this will have a major impact on the airline fares from airlines flying to these two airports. Though the government would lose revenue there would be other gains to the economy by lowering these taxes.


Mandatory Covid-19 test requirement reversed

Sri Lanka has reversed its circular on mandatory regulation to produce pre-boarding or on-arrival negative Covid-19 tests by any person arriving in Sri Lanka, Chairman Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority Priantha Fernando confirmed.

In an interview with the ‘Daily News Businesses’ he said they contacted the health authorities and sought the green light for this. “In addition there was also pressure from the Russian travel agents who are actively promoting Sri Lanka as a preferred destination for their travelers.”

Aeroflot, Red Wings and Azur Air have already launched flights to Colombo and Mattala and bring in nearly 20,000 Russian tourists per month. “Red Wings will also be launching their fourth flight per week from next month to Mattala.” Fernando also said that they together with Health Authorities are taking several steps for safely checks at both the airports in this regard.




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