Delay in Mattala Airport openingView(s):
Sri Lanka’s second international airport at Mattala in Hambantota is likely to delay its opening until a new date is fixed, an official said.
“We might push it to this year or next year in December or January (2013),” Airport and Aviation Services Ltd (AASL)� Chairman Prasanna Wickramasooriya told the Business Times on Wednesday.
Authorities had previously indicated that the opening of the new airport was scheduled for November this year.
While construction of stage one is expected to conclude by the end of this year, he said no opening date was finalized yet.
On the other hand the contract for the construction work on the first stage of the project is scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2013, he said.
In this respect, Mr. Wickramasooriya observed that the airport would be ready by January, and trials would also be carried out.
“The President wants us to complete the work properly,” and so they are not in a hurry, the AASL Chairman pointed out.
Responding to queries of international airlines flying into Mattala, the airport’s chief said three airlines have agreed to fly into the new airport upon its opening apart – national carrier SriLankan Airlines and budget carrier Mihin Lanka. But he declinedto give out any names at this stage. However recent reports said budget carrier Flydubai has also agreed to use the airport.
He said Emirates Airlines had also expressed interest as “they have identified the potential there.” This came following their recent meeting at the opening of the new Emirates lounge at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA).
Ground handling, landing and parking fees would initially be provided via an attractive package for a period of six months, he said.
Authorities increased the workforce at the Mattala airport project last year in a bid to speed up work from 1200 to 1500 with most picked from the locality. Installations of escalators and lifts have already been carried out at the new airport that would be subjected to tests, Airport and Aviation Services Senior Civil Engineer Mr. Lalith Warusavitharana told the Business Times.