Sri Lanka’s Cabinet of Ministers to discuss the development of the Palaly Airport in the North through joint venture
The Cabinet of Ministers in Sri Lanka is expected to discuss this week a proposal to develop Palaly Airport through a joint venture with the Air Force and the Civil Aviation Authority, local media reports stated.
The proposal to develop the Palaly Airport as a regional airport at a cost of nearly Rs. 2 billion will be jointly presented by the Ministries of Transport and Civil Aviation, Tourism and Policy Planning and Economic Development, Transport Ministry Secretary G. S. Withanage has told an English daily newspaper, the Daily FT.
The proposal looks at developing the airport as a regional hub, utilising funds from both the Civil Aviation Authority Sri Lanka (CAASL) and the Tourism Development Fund, CAASL CEO H. M. C. Nimalsiri has told the Daily FT. The development is to be carried out by the Air Force, he said.
The project aims to cater to the increasing tourist demand.
“The airport will be developed to cater to a number of different aircraft types, but our model craft is A320. It is too early to predict the demand, but we expect there to be a good demand from the tourist sector,” he has said.
Noting that the availability of domestic flights can drastically reduce travel time for tourists, he has noted that the project also expects to attract flights from the region.
According to him, the airport once developed will also attract travellers from North, East and North Central provinces, who currently have to travel across the country by road to reach Sri Lanka’s only international airport in Katunayake.
The airport, once developed, will be managed by CAASL and Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) in a model similar to the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA), Withanage has said.
“There will be a separate section for civil aviation managed by the CAASL and the Military section managed by the Air force,” he has said.
The new proposal is also in line with the Sri Lankan government’s plan to develop the country’s domestic aviation industry.
According to reports, another Cabinet paper presented in June sought to work out a possible mechanism to utilise airports under SALF management, which includes the Trincomalee, Sigiriya, Palaly, Hingurakgoda and Koggala airports.
The development of the Palaly airport has opened up business opportunities in Sri Lanka’s aviation and tourism sectors. It would also have a cascading effect on other businesses as well as the country’s economy on the whole. The Sri Lankan government is engaged in developing its domestic airport network to increase mobility within the country while promoting the tourism sector as well. Also, the development of the domestic airport network and the Palaly Airport to the standard of a regional Airport would create many opportunities for foreign businesses.
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