Sri Lankan aviation history will be re written when the Ratmalana airport is converted to an international airport with flights to China via the Maldives.
An official from the Transport and Civil Aviation Ministry said the first flight to the Maldives airport will fly out from Ratmalana operated by maldivian Airlines. It will also offer connections to China, Dhaka, Bangkok and Chennai making Ratmalana the third Sri Lanka airport after Colombo and Mat-tala to offer connections.
maldivian Airlines will operate a 60 seater DS aircraft for this operation. The Airport and Aviation Authority has also looked at the runway and other facilities and have approved the safety standards at the Ratmalana airport.
He said Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva was working to revive the Ratmalana airport and negotions were going on with Maldivan government as well as the Air Force in this regard. He said Maldivian Civil Aviation Minister Moosa Sameer was also in Colombo last month and the final MOU in this regard will be inked. “We have now taken the entire control of the airport from the Air Force and it will a commercial airport now.” He said the second terminal building that was idling is also being refurbished.
New Customs, Immigration counters, new fire engines, aviation fuel filling facilities, medical facilities, cafeterias and all other international facilities will be introduced within the next two weeks. “We would also have facilities for six duty free shops and are keen to offer it to the private sector immediately.’’
The Minister is now negotiating with an Indian government airline and also a private operator to explore the possibility of launching Indian flights to new destinations from Ratmalana.
He said that Ratmalana will also be the only airport in Sri Lanka where a passenger will be able to get a connection to Jaffna via Heli Tours which operates from Ratmalana “This will also entice private operators which already have hangars in Ratmalana to begin their operations with international flights coming in.”
He said that it took less than Rs.10 million to convert Ratmalana from a domestic airport to an international one. “The main aim was to promote tourism and charter flights too will be entertained at Ratmalana.”