New chapter in Lanka’s aviation history:
BIA to become regional hub
The BIA developments along with Mattala
as the second international airport and backed up with domestic and
air taxi services would make Sri Lanka one of the best airport hubs
in the region and would also take Sri Lanka closer to becoming the
Wonder of Asia
The Bandaranaike International Airport, Colombo
SriLankan Airline history would be rewritten by the end of next year
when passengers from all over the world would be able to fly direct to
any destination in Jaffna, Trincomalee and Hambantota without coming out
of the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA), Colombo.
By next year, a passenger would be able to purchase a Toronto-Jaffna
return ticket; an investor could book a Colombo-Hambantota return
ticket; or a tourist would on-line print a Heathrow-Trincomalee return
This would be a major incentive for investors who do not have time to
travel overland to far away destinations. In addition Sri Lankans based
in Europe, Canada and Australia too could fly home easily.
The key to this ground-breaking piece of history would be the opening
of the domestic airport at the Colombo airport.
The old SriLankan Airlines Catering building would be used for this
purpose, conversion of the building to a domestic airport is currently
Minister of Aviation Priyankara Jayaratne said that they have already
received many positive inquiries from local airline investors about
launching domestic flights to Jaffna and Trincomalee. “We are currently
evaluating these proposals,” he said.
Minister of Aviation Priyankara Jayaratne and Chairman, AASL,
Prasanna Wickramasuriya make a donation to the Nagadeepa temple
Chairman, AASL Prasanna Wickramasuriya exchanging the documents
with CEO, SriLankan Airlines, Manoj Vass Gunawardane. Minister
Priyankara Jayaratne looks on.
Colombo Airport control tower
| BIA - Colombo luxury
The Minister said that the Mahinda Chinthana clearly spells out that
Sri Lanka would be made a regional aviation hub. To meet this objective
domestic air travel is very important. “A passenger can even now get a
domestic flight from Ratmalana, but he has to travel for two hours to
reach Ratmalana which is not practical. This was why the Government
wanted to have a domestic passenger terminal within the Colombo airport”
the Minister said.
He said that the conversion of the cargo building on the same side of
the main terminal building would be ready by September 2012 and a
passenger just has to walk a few metres to get there.
It is also proposed to build a domestic airport in Ratmalana to
enable passengers to catch connecting domestic flights to several
domestic airports which are being developed.
Chairman Airport and Aviation Services (AASL), Prasanna
Wickramasuriya said that even local passengers could take domestic
flights from the new terminal which is located further to the main
terminal when travelling from Colombo.
Wickramasuriya said that he together with the Minister is currently
touring Jaffna and also visited the Palali airport to see its progress.
The Airport and Aviation Services Buddhist Society also made a donation
of a water bowser to the Naga Deeepa island. They also installed 10
light towers and made a cash donation. “This is part of our social
responsibility,” he said.
Wickramasuriya said that they will soon extend the Colombo Airport
train to the terminal and would also have the facility to transport
cargo in the train.
“Cargo is presently being transported in several individual vehicles
which add more expenditure to exporters.
With the extension of the rail track exporters would also be able to
save on fuel and also on time as it takes less than 40 minutes to get to
the airport.” The Chairman said that plans are under way to operate more
Exporter are keen to have this project under way soon and would also
With cargo being transported by train, a scheduled journeys would
benefit the passengers. The AASL is also planning to open a ticketing
office at the Secretariat railway station so that passengers could even
book in advance. “Online booking too would be introduced.”
SriLankan Airlines is expected to market the train so that it would
have more journeys per day.
A first for the region
One of the other major projects the AASL is planning is an upmarket
apparel park at the Colombo airport. “Passengers can visit this park
located opposite the airport and make purchases. We are planning to have
an overhead bridge to reach this proposed apparel park and the AASL has
already talked to leading apparel exporters to open outlets at this
This would be the region’s first apparel park inside an international
The sixth baggage conveyor belt system and the new building at the
Airport were opened last January.
The baggage handling system at an airport plays a crucial role in
keeping travellers happy.
It also makes the difference in an airport’s ability to attract or be
a major airline hub.
The main objective of having a sixth baggage belt system was to cater
to the tourists arriving in Sri Lanka in an efficient and effective
manner, especially with the increase in tourist arrivals after the end
of the conflict.
With this project, the AASL hopes to provide a more efficient service
to the users of the terminal car park.
The main highlight of this system is that it was developed in house
by the Information Technology Division of AASL.
The transit hotel which was a long felt need to the Colombo airport
is now shaping up.
The region’s first star class airport hotel consisting of 300 rooms
too would be built.
This would be a major attraction to the country as well and would
increase the airport’s capacity as a regional passenger hub.
The BIA received a major boost with the introduction of a pier with
eight aero-bridges in 2005.
This has added value to the destination and even some international
airports in developed countries do not have this luxury; The low cost
carrier terminal in Malaysia is an example.
In contrast, Sri Lanka’s second international airport in Mattala
would also have aero-bridges when it opens next year.
A new terminal with an additional eight gates is proposed to be built
with an investment of US$ 300 million to cater to six million additional
A five-storey carpark too is being proposed along with a second
The Colombo-Katunayake expressway too would be a major plus point for
BIA passengers. The highway would take a passenger to the airport in
less than half an hour from Peliyagoda.
The building of the sea plane landing pier at Ja-Ela too would give
passengers the option of taking a sea plane to destinations such as
Bentota, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Kotmale and even Ampara.
In a bid to have a better relationship, the AASL also signed an
agreement with SriLankan Airlines.
This MOU between SriLankan Airlines (the national carrier of Sri
Lanka) and AASL (the statutory service provider at civil airports, both
international and domestic in Sri Lanka) marks the beginning of a
sustainable journey in the civil aviation industry of Sri Lanka with a
collaborative and symbiotic relationship between the parties involved.
The BIA along with Mattala as the second international airport and
backed up with domestic and air taxi services would make Sri Lanka one
of the best airport hubs in the region and would also take Sri Lanka
closer to becoming the Wonder of Asia.