Mattala Airport will be developed as a cargo hub

The Mattala International Airport will be developed as a cargo hub while upgrading its luxury facilities, Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga said in Parliament yesterday.

Minister Ranatunga said that an export processing zone, an aircraft maintenance and turnover yard (MRO) and a duty-free shopping complex will be built at the airport.

Minister Ranatunga was responding to Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP Hesha Vithanage regarding the construction of the Mattala International Airport and its future activities, during the Oral Questions Round.

The Minister said that USD 247.7 million was spent on the construction of the Mattala International Airport. He added that China provided USD 190 million under the concessionary loan scheme and the airport and the airline used the remaining funds. The Minister said that the Mattala Airport commenced operations on March 18, 2013 and earned Rs. 445,319,656 up to November 2020. The number of flights operated from the date of opening to November 2020 was 10,206. Twenty three airlines, including SriLankan Airlines, operated flights during that period where 58,651 passengers had arrived. The number of departed passengers is 73,513.

Plans are afoot to resume the operations of its duty free shopping mall and to develop the cargo terminal facilities. Minister Ranatunga said that the previous Government of Good Governance had brought disrepute to this airport by storing paddy in it. Minister Ranatunga said that although the Mattala Airport was planned to be made an active airport after the Government came to power, it was difficult to reach those targets because of the pandemic.

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