Rewriting Sri Lanka aviation history Ratmalana Airport (Colombo International Airport) resumed international flights after 54 years with Maldivian Airlines commencing direct flights to Male. This would be a thrice a week flight.
In addition, the Ratmalana Airport also opened up for night traffic allowing flights to land even after dark. “Earlier this time was at 6 p.m. In another historic move, Ground operation at Ratmalana Airport will be handled by the Airport and Aviation Company. Previously it was the SriLankan Airlines Company that handled ground operations at this airport.
State Minister for Aviation, D. V. Chanaka while welcoming the airlines said that several Indian airlines have consented to operate flights to Ratmalana. “With the vision of developing the aviation sector in Sri Lanka, the Ratmalana airport saw Rs. 220 million investment which included a new runway, a new entrance, new passenger terminal, duty-free and several other infrastructure facilities.
“With this opening, the docking capacity and runway efficiency of the Ratmalana airport will increase by about 75% and we ensure that a passenger can come out of the airport in less than 20 minutes.”
Required steps to certify the Aerodrome area of the airport have already been taken. It is an essential requirement of an international airport. There are also plans to build a local control centre and an air traffic control tower at the Ratmalana Airport with air navigation facilities.
Measures have also been taken to upgrade the aircraft hangar facilities at Ratmalana Airport and one parking space has already been set up. This project is one that was abandoned since 2015, up to now.
Minister Namal Rajapaksa said that with the opening of Katunayake, Mattala and Ratmalana as international airports Sri Lanka will add two more international airports with the opening of Jaffna and Batticaloa.
Maldivian Air Managing Director Mohamed Mihad said that after Ramadan they will introduce a bigger aircraft increasing the passenger capacity from 50 to 72 and also increasing cargo. “We will also look at lowering the current return airfare.”
It was also announced that Ratmalana Airport was built by the British in the 1930s even before Dubai had an international airport but after the opening of Katunayake airport, Ratmalana was sidelined and now has got a new lease of life.
However, Chairman Chandran Ratnam, of Sri Lanka’s first domestic airline operator Lion Air who operated 18 flights per week from Ratmalana several years ago lamented that no mention was made of their efforts and also about the important role played by Heli Tours.