More check-in counters have been opened and additional security deployed at the Bandaranaike International Airport where a band is playing to help soothe rattled nerves in the chaotic departure hall. Baggage screening is rushed, immigration lines are lengthy, hundreds of cars including taxis, SUVs, and tour buses jostle for space at the departure hall, now [...]

News

Passengers hang around at airport and face the music

View(s):

The waiting game at the aiport: Departing passengers have been advised to check-in at least five hours early

More check-in counters have been opened and additional security deployed at the Bandaranaike International Airport where a band is playing to help soothe rattled nerves in the chaotic departure hall.

Baggage screening is rushed, immigration lines are lengthy, hundreds of cars including taxis, SUVs, and tour buses jostle for space at the departure hall, now that a runway renovation has begun and flights are halted from 8:30am to 4:30 p.m. Work on the Rs 7.2 billion undertaking is set to end on April 5.

The head of Airport Management at the Bandaranaike International Airport, H.S Hettiarachchi, explained that the runway is being widened by 7.5 metres at each shoulder so that an Airbus A380 could land one day in Colombo.

He said the runway built during 1986 has run its course according to International Civil Aviation Organization standards. A runway can be used for 20 years or 200,000 landings, and that this limit was achieved in 2006, while the 20-year lifespan ended in 1996. “If we delayed the renovations any more, the ICAO would stop flights and advise us to renovate. We are late for the resurfacing.”

Mr Hettiarachi added that a new terminal capable of handling 180,000 people will be built beginning May. It will have 96 check-in counters.

Departing passengers have been advised to check-in at least five hours early.

Many foreigners and Sri Lankans have been seen asking officials about flight arrangements and their luggage which is checked in early.

Sri Lankan Airlines has engaged a calypso band to perform in the departure hall to help ease the stress.

Phil Dahlenburg who was flying back to Australia said he did not mind arriving at the airport early.

He said he could spend time listening to the band, but he preferred more upbeat music.

H.S Hettiarachchi

“I like the music the band played, yet they looked nervous. However, the effort of the airport authority must be given credit, because they are trying to ease the tension,” he said. He added he took the extra time available to browse at the duty free shops.

An Austrian visitor who identified herself as Shaninne, said that she came four hours early for her 9:00pm flight. She preferred to have those extra hours for more travelling in Sri Lanka, although she enjoyed her stay in the island.

Mohamad Isharaff, who was travelling with friends, also arrived five hours early and was deeply disappointed. “Earlier, passengers were told to check-in three hours early, now they tell us to come five hours earlier, three or five hours waiting is a waste of time.”

Band leader Saman Kumara Sirisena said two groups of nine are playing in the departure building’s ground level and upper floor. He said some foreigners were seen dancing and singing.

 

Singing the passengers' blues away? Sri Lankan Airlines has engaged a calypso band to perform in the departure hall to help ease the stress. Pix by Indika Handuwala

Ghost town: An empty airport during the hours of closure

Phil Dahlenburg

Shaninne

Advertising Rates

Please contact the advertising office on 011 - 2479521 for the advertising rates.