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Hambantota International Airport

The Sri Lankan government is now planning to build the country’s second international airport in Mattala area of Hambantota, near to the hometown of the now President. Although it is really good to have a second airport, the ultimate question is – will this be really built?

The government had previously allocated an area at Wirawila, also in the southern part of the country, for the new airport, but the project was finally scrapped for environmental concerns after years of lobbying. However, the AASL – the operating body of Sri Lanka’s airports – now states that they have earmarked the relevant lands and have now received the approval for environmental concerns. The government run body also stated that no agricultural lands or populated areas will be affected by the project. They hope to build the airport mainly for cargo traffic, which will be practical idea given that the airport is built closer to the new Hambantota Sea Port which

is also under construction and that the new method of air freighting has become a part by sea party by air method in order to offset high costs.

 

 
 

The annual passenger expectation is only one million.

 

AASL also stated that the aviation minister, elder brother of the current president, is keen to get the project going on and will inititate the project within two months for a planned 2011 completion.

 

The new airport’s location, in Mattala, will provide very easy and short access to a number of natural reservoirs and game parks in Sri Lanka – most of which are situated in the South. The airport will also be an excellent entry point to the close by beaches. These factors will make this airport a favourable choice to tourists visiting Sri Lanka.

 

However, Hambanthota airport is unlikely to have a high yield, at least in the beginning. One of the key reasons for this is that Hambanthota is still very much a under-developed rural area

 

Sri Lanka: Environmental approval has been granted to the proposed international airport at Mattala in Hambantota District. Construction work started in July 2009 and is scheduled to be completed in 2011. The airport will be constructed on 800 hectares of bare land with an investment of SLR 22 billion (USD 190.6 million) with for-eign funding. In the first stage, it would consist of one runway and a taxiway; in a second stage, it would be expanded allowing bigger aircraft like the A380 to land. “The airport would be constructed under a green concept and would be ecofriendly with several lakes and green landscape,” said the Chairman of Airport & Aviation Services Ltd (AASL), Prasanna J. Wickramasuriya. Sri Lanka engineers would do the designing and implementation of the project, thus saving foreign exchange to the country

 

In the first five years, the airport would primarily focus on cargo operations going in line with the Hambantoa harbour which would be opened during the same period. -- One of the main reasons to select Hambantota was that the project would stimulate the development and infrastructure in the area, thus raising living standards of the under-privileged people not only in Hambantota, but in nearby Matara, Moneragala and like districts.

 

Tourism in these areas, too, would have a major positive impact from the project while Mattala International Airport would also serve as the cargo hub to the East. In addition, the new airport, it is also expected to create a new aviation culture by introducing a domestic air link network. “Special domestic flights are to be launched linking Colombo, Ratmalana, Trincomalee, and Palaly with the assistance of the private sector

 
   
 

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Latest update on 25.02 2010 SLRUW AT 12.30 PM