Sri Lanka Tourism is for the first time funding an airport expansion – the northern airport in Palaly that is scheduled to be operational by the end of August, Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Director General H.M.C. Nimalsiri said.By the end of August it will be ready for operation and that’s the plan, he said noting that the airport has been funded through monies allocated from the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Fund (Rs.1050 million), the Civil Aviation Authority and the Airport and Aviation Services Ltd. (Rs.900 million), and the Indian government (US$2 million).
The Treasury is said to have picked the Tourism Development Fund since they did not have any other funds to carry out the upgrading of the airport.This phased out payment had been discussed and approved by the Cabinet prior to it being intimated to the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) board.
Under the new system they expect about twice daily flights from an Indian Air subsidiary Indian Alliance with the ability to fly in ATR72 or Q400 type aircraft with about 80 seats, he said.At present only Indian Alliance is said to have sought to carry out operations to Palaly with initially about four flights per week. However, no schedule has been worked out yet, it was noted.
“We are yet to see the demand – we are pretty sure of the demand – its economically cheaper to fly”, from Palaly for most of the Indian traffic, Mr. Nimalsiri said.The airport will operate with one side allocated for civilian and other for military operations by the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF), it was stated.As per the long term plans authorities hope to accommodate A320 with a 150 seating capacity and later A321 with 150 seating capacity, the DG said.
Ground handling at the airport would either be carried out by the airline itself or by the AASL, Mr. Nimalsiri said