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Sri Lanka’s Mattala Airport to be made hub in maritime crew exchanges

Sri Lanka’s Mattala Airport to be made hub in maritime crew exchanges

Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Limited (AASL) is reportedly looking at taking the full advantage of connecting the maritime and the aviation industries by focusing on becoming the hub for maritime crew chnages.
According to local media reports, a special charter flight, Boeing 737-800 operated by Enter Air arrived at Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA) last month, from Brussels, Belgium and transferred 43 crew members to a cruise ship anchored at Galle Harbour in Southern Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile, 35 ship crew members had departed on the return flight.
AASL had made all the required arrangements to provide accommodation facilities for the crew rest in strict accordance with the safety guidelines of the Sri Lanka Health Authorities, local media reports stated.
GAC Shipping, as appointed by the vessel owners, is the agent for the vessels and crew change operation in Sri Lanka, while CMB flight services support them as the handling agent.
Earlier in May, a special Charter passenger flight, Boeing 767-300 ER, was operated to MRIA from Amsterdam, the Netherlands to transfer 235 crew members to a cruise ship that was also anchored at Galle Harbour in Southern Sri Lanka, reports further noted.
According to the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), more than 90% of global air routes are hit by travel restrictions and the crew can not return home following their tours of duty or can the new crew be flown in to replace them.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) have jointly called on the governments recently to take urgent measures to facilitate crew change flights for seafarers.
According to reports, about 100,000 merchant seafarers need to be changed over every month from the ships on which they operate to ensure compliance with the international maritime regulations protecting the safety, health, and welfare.
Director, AASL Shehan Sumanasekara, said “The strategic importance of Sri Lanka’s geographical location at the southernmost tip of the Indian Ocean right in the center of aviation and maritime routes connecting the East and the West and the newly developed infrastructure such as the southern expressway have encouraged the international maritime and aviation industry players to choose the MRIA as a destination for international ship crew changes.”
“At the same time, Airport and Aviation has worked on a long term plan to turnaround the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport considering the unique competitive advantages of MRIA such as the proximity to unique tourism destinations in the Southern and the Eastern provinces, the availability of land to attract lucrative investments for aviation-related business ventures, synergy for sea-air transshipment and cargo development.”

OSL take:

Promoting the marine crew exchange project is a new programme that has the potential of becoming a strong revenue generator to the stakeholders. Sri Lanka’s geographical positioning in the Indian Ocean makes it the ideal destination to provide a hub for the free crew exchange project. Also, the ample lodging facilities available in the country along with easy access to ports add to the benefits of promoting the project in Sri Lanka. Therefore, businesses engaged in the maritime sector could explore the many business/investment opportunities available in Sri Lanka’s newly formed ship crew exchange project.

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Article Code : VBS/AT/20200609/Z_4

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