Sri Lanka’s renovation of the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) runway is expected to be completed ahead of schedule, the minister of transport and civil aviation said.
“The government invested around 49 million US dollars in the renovation and we need to thank our official for completing this work ahead of time,” Nimal Siripala de Silva, minister of transport and civil aviation told reporters in Colombo.
The main international airport currently operates from 16.30 hours to 08.30 hours but will operate at full capacity from April 6th. The runway closure resulted in airport authorities increasing the reporting and check-in-time for flights to avoid delays.
“We have now completed about 80 percent of the runway repairs, this means that we will be a bit ahead of schedule and can now use this to our advantage,” Head of Civil Engineering (Planning and Designs) G. Withanage told Lanka Business Online.
“Earlier we were going to do the taxi way adjustments after the opening of the airport but now we can finish that also before the opening in April.”
The temporary shutdown of BIA has had an impact on tourist arrivals with visitors to Sri Lanka declining in February, a first since the dawn of peace in 2009.
The minister went on to say that construction work of the second terminal was scheduled to begin within the next two months to accommodate the increasing number of passengers at the airport.
The airport currently caters to around 10 million passengers and has witnessed an increase in arrival numbers.
“The second terminal is expected to add a capacity of six million passengers.”
Sri Lanka hopes to attract more than 4.5 million tourists by 2020, after averaging around 400,000 tourists during the height of a war with Tamil Tiger separatists.