Operations at Sri Lanka’s second international airport in Mattala will begin on March 18 with the three days a week SriLankan airline flights from the Katunayake Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) to Riyadh via Mattala.
A presidential secretariat spokesman said President Mahinda Rajapaksa had on Monday instructed officials to make arrangements to launch international flights on March 18. On the same day the Chinese Eastern Airlines will fly from Shanghai to the BIA via Mattala. Its flights are scheduled for Mondays and Saturdays.
He said there would be another flight from Colombo to Beijing via Mattala operated by the China Eastern Airlines and to Male from Katunayake via Mattala by SriLankan Airlines while Mihin Lanka will fly to Budhgaya via Mattala on Saturdays and Sundays.
The spokesman said discussions had been held on developing the BIA. He said a modern aircraft maintenance apron and pilot training unit would be set up at Mattala and special transport network would be in place to travel to and from Mattala for air passengers.
The spokesman said prestigious international carriers have been invited to fly to Mattala on an open skies policy without any binding obligations or regulations as we needed to market Mattala and divert a part of international flights to Mattala to avoid the increasingly congestion at BIA.
Huge concessions have been offered for international airlines that use Mattala with discounts for ground handling. The government had already talked to several leading airlines to motivate them to use Mattala, he added. (Sandun A. Jayasekera)