Resurfacing of the runway at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) has cancelled only eight flights per day while other flights have been rescheduled to land at the BIA after 4.30 p.m., Transport and Civil Aviation Deputy Minister Ashok Abeysinghe told the Sunday Observer yesterday
“We have given four options to the airlines either to go to Mattala Airport, come to BIA after 4.30 p.m., reschedule their flights or cancel their flights. Earlier 10 to 15 flights had been cancelled per day, but this has now come down to eight flights while others flights have been rescheduled and land at BIA after 4.30 p.m.,” he said.
“None of the Airlines preferred to go to Mattala Airport due to lack of facilities such as hotels. But we have asked SriLankan Airline flights to China to touch Mattala Airport. However, this has resulted three hours delay.”
Nearly, 175 to 180 planes are landed the BIA per day. The least number of nearly 45 planes are landed at the BIA daily during the period from 8.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.
The Deputy Minister said at present most of the flights land at BIA after 4.30 p.m. As a result, the BIA is much crowded so that we have asked the passengers to come to airport before five hours prior to their departure.
The number of counters in the BIA has been increased while a special traffic plan has also been implemented. However, this situation will prevail until the resurfacing of the BIA runway is completed on April 6. The resurfacing work of the main runway commenced on Friday (January 6). The runway will be closed from 8.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. daily starting from January 6 to April 6 till the resurfacing project is completed at a cost of US$ 50 million.
This is the first time that runway is resurfaced after a lapse of 30 years since it was done in 1986. The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) had conveyed to the Government that the planes could not be landed after 2017 until the runway is resurfaced to conform to international standards, he said.
The BIA runway is 3,350 meters long and 45 meters wide. The width is not enough to land a plane like 380 so that steps have been taken to increase its width as well. Meanwhile, the construction of next terminal of the BIA estimated at a cost of US$ 700 million will be launched in April this year. The JICA funded project is expected to be completed in 2019.
The capacity of the BIA is around 6.5 million passengers per year. At present, this has increased to 9 million. Therefore, there is congestion at the BIA. Our intention is to increase this capacity to 20 million passengers per year. The present number of 8 aero-bridges in the BIA will be increased to 24. The Ministry has also decided to upgrade the air traffic monitoring system at a cost of US$ 50 million, the Deputy Minister said.