Hand over MRIA management to aircraft-owning company: Udayanga Weeratunga

Colombo, May 12 (Daily Mirror) - The government should explore the option of assigning the management of the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA) to a company that not only specializes in management but also owns airplanes and has the capability to attract and facilitate aircraft operations, former Sri Lankan Ambassador to Russia Udayanga Weeratunga said.

Addressing the media, he said that the government had handed over the management of the MRIA to Shaurya Aeronautics Pvt. Ltd. of India and Airports of Regions Management Company of Russia, or an affiliated company there, for a period of 30 years.

"Today marks the 11th anniversary since the opening of the MRIA. Over the past years, authorities have struggled to maintain consistent air traffic with tourists. However, I successfully brought the first aircraft from Ukraine on December 28, 2020. Since then, a total of 243 aircraft have landed at the MRIA, carrying more than 400 foreigners. Interestingly, not a single Sri Lankan arrived on those planes, except for me," he said.

"The country has received about USD 152 million in direct foreign exchange directly from the MRIA. If we were to facilitate the landing of 10 aircraft daily, the government could potentially generate a substantial amount of dollar exchange. However, authorities consistently choose to criticize the MRIA instead of recognizing its potential benefits," he said.

Today, the MRIA marked the final departure of an aircraft carrying 411 passengers, he said.

"I believe the companies that have taken over will develop the airport without it resembling an airport with peacocks, as it did before 2020. I hope these companies will successfully enhance and improve the airport's facilities," Weeratunga added.
"There were no technical or management faults present in the airport. Thanks to the efficiency of the officers at the airport, we were able to successfully bring in more than 300 aircraft into the country," Weeratunga added.

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