Mattala Airport in full throttle

26 January 2017 04:43 am - 37     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA), which was once dubbed as a ghost airport by both local and foreign commentators, has suddenly turned into life becoming one of the busiest airports in the world, due to the temporary closure of Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) for the relaying of its decade-old runaway.

With the operations at BIA increasingly becoming chaotic, an increasing number of airlines has started flying in and out of MRIA carrying thousands of passengers on a daily basis.

According to MRIA officials, at least 14 airlines, including state-owned SriLankan Airlines and some charter flights, are now flying to Mattala, saving millions of dollars in foreign exchange to the country.

Mirror Business spotted a few of these flights from new airlines such as Sriwijaya Air, an Indonesian airline based in Jakarta, and Jordan Aviation, an airline based in Amman, flying in an out of MRIA through Flightradar24, a global flight tracking service that provides with real-time information.

Even when BIA was in full operation, the low-cost carrier, flydubai, has been making regular flights to Mattala since the opening of the airport. SriLankan Airlines flights to Shanghai and Beijing also used to make stopovers at MRIA.

The airport and aviation experts however question the selection of the location for Sri Lanka’s second international airport due to the presence of strong cross winds in the area, which makes a pilot’s job much harder in landing a passenger aircraft.

Also, frequent bird strikes and unavailability of parallel taxi ways and enough runaway exits have also been highlighted as major shortcomings of MRIA.

However, they do not appear to consider them as reasons to abandon the facility, which can be easily made financially viable by way of fixing some of these limitations and making the airport attractive by offering competitive handling charges, etc.  

However, the coalition regime, which came into power promising full-stop to the Rajapaksa vanity projects, took no time to turn one of MRIA’s unused terminals into a warehouse for storing rice.

However, the government is reportedly finding bidders to sell the airport, likely to a Chinese operator, to settle the debt drawn from China to construct the airport.

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  Comments - 37

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  • Mohan W. Sunday, 29 January 2017 08:09 PM

    Thundering slaps across the face are not the solution, words like shame have become lonely words among the western oriented people governing SL today. The skys are filled with super jets carrying cargo, people who can't see a lucrative use of Mattala are not suited even to clean the stinking draines in Colombo. The biggest slap would be to send this shamful band to govern some other island inhabited with wild Aborogines.

    Lanka Thursday, 26 January 2017 05:24 AM

    HRI or MRI ? "Has become one of the busiest airports in the world" I seeing things?

    Kumar Thursday, 26 January 2017 05:34 AM

    This airport could be developed as an International Flying School and an International Aircraft Maintenance and Repair Centre which would bring in wealth and prestige to Sri Lanka.

    aravinda Thursday, 26 January 2017 05:35 AM

    Mattala airport was built for the purpose using it for the southern development zone that will be built in and around Hambantota region. I think this airport will be fully utilized when the planned development zones are fully operational. When Katunayaka airport was built back in the '60s there were enough birds around the place but nobody complained. Most of the people who criticize HRI today are doing so to get political mileage.

    Kadia Thursday, 26 January 2017 05:51 AM

    Where did the animals go?

    ara Thursday, 26 January 2017 05:52 AM

    this is good reporting, well done

    Jagath Leanage Thursday, 26 January 2017 06:02 AM

    That means building airport in Mattala is not a waste of money .

    Chanaka Thursday, 26 January 2017 06:06 AM

    what a crime not to promote and use this facility finding all excuses to sell it is still on top of the agenda of Yahapalanaya via DM Android App

    Banda Thursday, 26 January 2017 06:07 AM

    All the lies of govt are unravelling one by one... via DM Android App

    Manushya Thursday, 26 January 2017 06:10 AM

    One of the world at busiest? In its size category ?

    Cafe specter Friday, 27 January 2017 02:48 AM

    One of the busiest

    ANTON Thursday, 26 January 2017 07:27 AM


    usaguy Thursday, 26 January 2017 02:40 PM

    idea. all long haul UL flights should deparv from Mattala. have a full scale shuttle between Colombo and Mattala run by Sri Lankan Airlines. via DM Android App

    gobbaya Thursday, 26 January 2017 07:29 AM

    has anyone visited flightradar24 and seen for themselves before commenting. still shows only 3UL & 1 FLY DUBAI coming during the past 48 hrs. shame on you DAILY MIRROR for your journalistic integrity...better fly a kite at VIHARA MAHA DEVI park. via DM Android App

    Eds Thursday, 26 January 2017 02:50 PM

    Another thundering slap across the face of the Yaha Paalanaya

    Eds Thursday, 26 January 2017 02:51 PM

    I feel sorry for you! Enough said

    Bala Thursday, 26 January 2017 07:41 AM

    Reporters fantasy - does he know how many aircraft use heathrow, ny kennedy, dulles airport, charles de gaulle in paris and franfurt airports daily flights. Busiest in the world by 5000 miles to go.

    Mandy Thursday, 26 January 2017 07:45 AM

    With these few small planes do you think the huge annual debt payment can be met. Superficial calculations not acceptable to settle huge debt burden.

    Ho Ho Thursday, 26 January 2017 02:56 PM

    Difficult to digest! friends of yahapalanaya(Gobba palanaya)

    Jambo Thursday, 26 January 2017 07:54 AM

    Records do t indicate that airport was busy.

    Jude Thursday, 26 January 2017 07:55 AM

    I'll reiterate!!, Yeah, It's a good Idea to build the second intl. Airport in Dry-Zone!!! You got to give the credit where it due!!!!

    Tilak Thursday, 26 January 2017 08:04 AM

    Thanks Mr Rajapaksha, the ex-president for planning for future. This shows the value of second Airport which can land A380 planes as well. It will take millions of years for Yahapalana government to do something constructive.

    Punny Pellow Thursday, 26 January 2017 08:21 AM

    Seeing or hearing, this is the solution! Close the B. airport!!!!

    Hiran Thursday, 26 January 2017 08:47 AM

    Glad to hear that mattala is getting some traffic and revenue. But describing it one of the busiest airports in the world? Come on that is bit of overkill from the reporter who wrote this.

    dada Thursday, 26 January 2017 08:52 AM

    Air force Can Go there

    Channa Thursday, 26 January 2017 04:55 PM

    Always good results come late. Jayawewa

    Rish Thursday, 26 January 2017 09:02 AM

    Reduction in revenue in Katunayaka operation and increase in mattala what is the benefit to the country..."one of the busiest air port in the world" So what about the Dubai

    Leo Thursday, 26 January 2017 09:03 AM

    The author of this article maybe a cousin of MR. Only unheard flights stopping at MRIA. No prime carriers such as SQ CX QR EK or TG would dream of flying into a forest of birds. via DM Android App

    Jan Thursday, 26 January 2017 05:29 PM

    Change the Name of MRIA to Hambanthota International Airport This is built by our Taxpayers money Not their personal money via DM Android App

    himansu Thursday, 26 January 2017 09:09 AM


    sacre blieu Thursday, 26 January 2017 09:15 AM

    If only our dreams came true , even though at a smidgen of cost. Heaven , seems to have no limits to a handful , but the general population suffer a nightmarish experience.

    johnny Thursday, 26 January 2017 07:08 PM

    The journalist must be dreaming. Haha! Take look at Flightradar. Not one flight in MRIA at all.

    Racka M. Thursday, 26 January 2017 07:12 PM

    This Fake News! No airplanes in Mattala.

    Dee Thursday, 26 January 2017 07:20 PM

    Wish they don't send sin flights there. Rather go by ship. But yhese indonesian charters and dubai flights, won't be usings them anytime soon.

    p Nonis Friday, 27 January 2017 09:35 AM

    If the civil aviation gradually increased the flights to Mattala, the BIA reconstruction could have been done in a time period of one month plus.and shut down BIA totally until the run away repaired.on a 12 hr two shift basisWasting passengers valuble time of 2 hrs from 3 to 5 hrs is not acceptable according to International standards of Aviation unless there is a prevailing war or some civil disturbance.BIA not having a second runaway is the Biggest problem, considering the colossal amounts of money spend on the Katunayaka Highway. we are short sighted and planning eventually not good considering this mess.This is crisis solutions the civil aviation is using rather than normal routine maintenance.It is still not too late to remedy the problem.

    APSS Thursday, 26 January 2017 08:48 PM

    Actually, it was, and the previous regime is due very little credit, for two reasons.1) This entire airport built, and to get political mileage, people credit the previous regime's foresight. Truth is, this eventuality of runway closure was not planned when HRI was built. Even if it was, the airport is still a vanity project, built out of vanity, and not foresight, since the runway closure at CMB hadn't even been planned.2) If the money had been used to build a 2nd runway at CMB, this airport would neither have existed, nor been needed, and it would've saved authorities, officials, airlines, and travellers, much time, and money.

    nimal Thursday, 26 January 2017 09:06 PM

    Bala, he said one of the busiest not the THE. and it can be. Don't comment like an idiot

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