* Arrivals and departures on two floors with rail links
* Mattala with 1 mn capacity to be link to expatriate workers, tourists, luxury yachts, aviation repair hub
By Ravi Ladduwahetty
The government will call for tenders this week for the construction of the ambitious JICA- funded 29 billion Yen, US$ 350 million (Rs. 4.7 billion) Second Phase of the Bandaranaike International Airport, seeking to double passenger handling capacity to 12 million per annum by 2015.
"We have sent all the documentation to the Ministry of Aviation, which will seek the approval of the Cabinet of Ministers for the civil works after which we will be advertising for contractors his week," Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Ltd Chairman Colonel Prasanna Wickremasuriya told The Island Financial Review yesterday.
The contractor will have to be Japanese according to the agreement between Sri Lanka and Japan as the donor is the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The loan agreement was signed in Colombo on March 28 by Chief Representative, JICA Sri Lanka Office Akira Shimura and Secretary- Ministry of Finance and Planning Dr. P. B. Jayasundera.
The ambitious BIA expansion comes in the wake of the BIA reaching saturation point with its handling 6 million passengers end last year and also in consonance with the government’s plans of procuring 2.5 million arrivals target by 2016. Transit passengers have also increased by 27% for 2011 over 2010.
The brand new terminal building which will be housed on two floors will have the departure lounge on the upper floor and the arrivals lounge on the ground floor. Both will have rail links with international standards which will enable the smooth arrivals and departures for passengers to and from Colombo, Wickremasuriya said.
However, there will not be any enhancements to the cargo handling facilities at the BIA which prevail now.
Meanwhile, the civil works to the Mattala airport which will be completed end 2012, will also see that airport handling up to a million passengers when completed.
There will be the usual airlines which will also fly there and some of the principal advantages that will accrue from that airport will be a boon for Sri Lanka’s expatriate workers in the Gulf numbering 37% who hail from the Southern and Eastern provinces who can directly fly from and to Mattala, the AASL Chief said.
The Mattala airport will also serve as a catalyst for the tourism industry where Yala is a mere 20 minutes, Arugam Bay, a mere three and a half hours and Nuwara Eliya , two and a half hours on the Ella- Wellawaya Road. Moot in this context is that the Yala national park had over 100,000 arrivals last year.
The southern airport will be a further boon to the tourism industry where tourists who arrive there will also have links to cruise ships and such synergies were being worked out now, he said.
AASL is also talking to major worldwide airlines to entice them to have repair hubs in the Hambantota tax free zone where the Mattala airport would also be a link. German carrier Lufthansa will be the first, he remarked.