Sri Lanka’s MRIA records highest passenger arrivals since inception despite pandemic
Daily News: Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA) despite the Covid-19 global pandemic recorded the highest number of passenger arrivals in 2021 since its inception in 2013.
“We were also able to draw the attention of many charter flights through MRIA, attracting many high-end tourists to the country. MRIA was also able to set a record by handling ship crew transfers, which was an identified new market out of the pandemic. There is an intense interest to operate international flights to MRIA and several other Airlines are also in the process of negotiating with Airport & Aviation Services Sri Lanka (AASL) to commence scheduled flight operations to, from MRIA in the upcoming months. At the same time, SriLankan Airlines also intends commencing operations at MRIA, connecting Maldives and Kazakhstan, which will create an encouraging environment to attract additional airlines to MRIA.
“MRIA is adopting several accelerated strategies and by 2025 is looking forward to target beyond a million passengers yearly. These include to develop MRIA as an “Exotic Tourism Destination Airport” and Airport & Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) (Private) Limited, Sri Lanka Tourism Authority, Sri Lanka Inbound Tour Operators Association, and the hoteliers are to introduce tourist itineraries based out of MRIA to nearby well-known tourist attractions, such as wildlife, beaches, cultural and religious sites.
“Plans are also underway to promote MRIA for foreign investments for MRO, recreation, hospitality, duty-free, warehousing,” an officer from AASL said.
“Among the two other key plans are to promote MRIA as a cargo hub increasing the facilities and export processing zones and secondly to promote MRIA as a preferred destination for tech stops, transit, transfer, and services (refueling, crew changes, etc.)”
At the same time, MRIA will be developed to a logistics hub, as a destination for sea-air transshipment.
From 2013 until 2015 SriLankan Airlines had operations from MRIA but in 2021 MRIA counted the highest number of arrivals even without national carrier flight movement from MRIA. In addition during the pandemic due to the health and safety measures, it took on average 6 hours for a single aircraft and the passengers to clear out the airport. Therefore, BIA (Bandaranaike International Airport) accommodated a maximum of only 4 aircraft in the day.
Therefore, as the second international airport MRIA played a vital role in bringing down more repatriation passengers as well as increasing the speed of the process. Unfortunately, the previous regime in 2015 abandoned the airport and used it to store surplus paddy harvest of the Hambantota District. This myopic decision caused severe damages to the operational achievements of MRIA as well as to the image of the airport.
Sri Lanka has been recording a steady growth in the arrival of foreign travellers to the country since the reopening of borders early last year. The increase in arrivals despite the global Covid 19 pandemic is indicative of the growing interest in Sri Lanka as a growing business/tourist destination. Sri Lanka’s economy is on a growth path with the country developing as an emerging business destination in the South Asian region while also being slotted among the Top 10 island destinations in the world. The economic expansion and the increasing numbers of foreign travellers visiting the country is indicative of a steadily growing business/investment opportunities in Sri Lanka.
|Article Code :||VBS/AT/06012022/Z_2|