Palali Airport to get Rs.22 bn facelift | Daily News


Palali Airport to get Rs.22 bn facelift

Minister Arjuna Ranatunga and State Minister inaugurate the project.    Picture by Samantha Weerasiri
Minister Arjuna Ranatunga and State Minister inaugurate the project. Picture by Samantha Weerasiri

Transport and Civil Aviation Minister Arjuna Ranatunga yesterday said the upgrading of the Palali Airport to the international level was a significant victory achieved by the government within a short period.

He said the government will develop Palali Airport as a country’s third international airport at a cost of Rs.22 billion to operate regional commercial flights by this August.

The ceremony in this regard was held yesterday under the patronage of Minister Arjuna Ranatunga and Transport State Minister Ashok Abeysinghe, Education State Minister Vijayakala Maheshwaran, TNA MPs Mavei Senadhiraja, D.Siddarthan and Army Commander Lt. General Mahesh Senannayake.

Minister Ranathunga said the Palali Airport will be upgraded as a regional airport to handle international flights especially to South Indian cities under the first stage.

The first 950 metres of the runaway will be repaved to handle Bombardier C100 planes with seating capacity of 72 on the renovated runaway, the Minister said. Under the second stage, the runaway will be expanded another 1.5 metres. Then the airport will be able to handle aircraft within a distance of 1800 sq km. Under the third stage, the runaway is to be expanded to 2.3 kms and it will handle large passenger aircraft such as airbus 320 and 321.

He said the people of the North have to travel for seven to eight hours to reach the BIA to fly out of the country at present. But the upgrading of the Palali Airport will make it possible for people in the North to travel to any other country specially to India within a few hours.

“We will negotiate with the Finance Ministry to draw up a plan to afford air tickets to the airport users at an affordable rate. We have already received Cabinet approval to subsidise airlines that offer tickets at very affordable rates,” he said.

It was a long felt need of the people of the North that the Palali Airport be opened to the civil traffic after the 30-year long war.

Transport State Minister Ashok Abeysinghe said that development of the Northern Province was underscored as a top priority for the government development agenda. “We believe an international airport in Jaffna would boost the region’s economy vastly while creating more job opportunities in the region,” he said. The President and the Prime Minister instructed officials to give prominence to the expansion of the runaway and related facilities at the first stage of the construction. We will also open the the lippalei-KKS Road to facilitate the entry to the Palali Airport on a request made by the Jaffna people and the politicians. The government is going forward with both development and reconciliation,” he said.


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