Written by Tharushan Fernando
06 Jan, 2017 | 9:52 pm
From today, January 6, flights to and from the Bandaranaika International Airport will be stopped for eight hours to facilitate renovations to the airport’s only runway.
Renovation work on the airport’s runway commenced this morning under the auspices of the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, Nimal Siripala de Silva, amidst a multi-religious ceremony.
Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation,Nimal Siripala de Silva stated that much time has been spent fighting with JICA and the Japan Airport Authority
“This is because the delay was no fault of ours. We have done everything necessary to obtain the necessary funds”,he said
He added that some international organisations are very excited to give the loan, but after signing documents their work is very slow.
“They talk about delays, but the delay is not only from our end”, he said.
He added that the international organisations that provide funds are also the cause for some of the delays and not only that, the Treasury too is trying to absorb as much funds.
“Most of the money we got is being taken by the Treasury. What we are left is only 10 dollars. Out of that 10 dollars, two and a half also needs to be given to someone else”, he said
The estimated time-frame for the project is 90 days. The total cost for the project, which is being carried out by a Chinese company, is 48 million US dollars.
While flights to and from the Bandaranaike International Airport will be halted daily from 8.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m, the Airport Authority as well as Airlines say that those flights will take place during the nights.
Head of Airport Management, H.S. Hettiarachchi noted that usually, Check-In and Immigration counters for a flight are opened three hours before departure. However, during this time period the counters will be opened five hours prior to departure. Therefore all passengers are requested to arrive five hours prior to departure, and complete all necessary procedures.
He further added that as most flights would take place in the night during this time period, boarding of passengers to airplanes will be stopped 90 minutes prior to departure. Therefore, all counters will be closed 90 minutes prior to departure.
Journalists quizzed the Head of Airport Management regarding two flights bound to China, that were diverted to the Mattala International Airport this morning\
H.S. Hettiarachchi pointed out that there is a time period where SriLankan Airlines flights can land in China and if the flights depart Sri Lanka before 8.30 a.m, it will arrive in China before the stipulated time period,therefore, those flights will temporarily be operated from Mattala.
“During the transit at Mattala, we have taken steps to ensure that all passengers are well looked after. That is because Mattala is a 24 hour active airport”, he said
Director General of Civil Aviation Authority, H.M.C. Nimalsiri said that nearly 20 flights that arrive on a daily basis to Katunayake have been cancelled, and normally, there are 180 to 190 operations that take place daily. And preparations have been made to ensure that all other operations will continue smoothly, without any hindrances.
He added that there will be small social and economic issues that may arise through this, but this project is a national need, that must be done.
Meanwhile, airport authorities and airlines said that a special traffic plan has been implemented to reduce the motor traffic congestion that may build up in and around the airport during this time period.
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