Sri Lanka’s second international airport- the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport in Hambantota was inaugurated by President Mahinda Rajapaksa today (18 March).
A special SriLankan Airlines flight carrying President Mahinda Rajapaksa landed at the new Airport . Therefore the president was recorded as the first passenger of the new Airport.
Thereafter, a Sri Lankan Airlines flight from Dubai landed at the new Airport. Air Arabia flight from Saja and Flydubai flight also arrived at the Mattala Airport today.
International flights are scheduled to arrive at the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport from today onwards.
This is the first time that a new International Airport is being constructed in Sri Lanka. Situated 15 Km North of Hambantota , the construction work of the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA) began in November 2009 and the first stage has now been completed to serve one million passengers per year, it will also handle 45,000 Mt of air cargo. A total of 2,000 hectares has been reserved for the project out of which 800 hectares have been used for the stage one, spending USD 210 million.
It has the capability to serve the latest operational aircraft and more advanced aircraft of the future, and has been designed fully in keeping with recommendations of the International Civil Aviation Organization.
The MRIA has the only runway in Sri Lanka that could facilitate the most modern Airbus 380.
The inaugural test flight landed in the airport on October 16,2012 in a measure to test air travel control instruments installed at the Mattala Airport. The first plane was a Hawker Beech craft B200 registered as AP-CAB in Pakistan. The second test plane to land at Mattala was a SriLankan Airlines Airbus A330-200, January 29,2013.
The most impressive factor of the architecture of the MRIA is that it has preserved the Sri Lankan identity in its construction while incorporating modern facilities and techniques. This Airport is constructed as an eco-friendly project and it has already secured a category 10 international certification.
|MRIA will be promoted as a transshipment hub that links to the Magampura Mahinda Rajapaksa Port, which is about 15 miles away, and would act as an alternative to the Bandaranaike International Airport.
The new airport commences its operations at a time the Tourism Industry of Sri Lanka is experiencing a steady growth, recording more than 46% annual growth over the years.
The biggest advantage of MRIA is that it is located at the centre of the Hambantota district, bordering Monaragala and
Ratnapura districts. Nuwara Eliya is a two hours and forty five minute drive through Ella-Wellawaya, which is a very scenic route. The surfing destination Arugam Bay is about three hours away and the Yala National Park that drew over 15,000 tourists in December 2012 is just 35 minutes away from the airport.
|Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport
Taxiways: Two taxiways-
-a 360m length code F type with a width
of 60m and a 550m code C type with a width of 25m.
Runway: 3,500m Cord 4F type with a width of 75m
Stage 1 passenger capacity:
One million per year
Two, incliding one code F type which could facilitate an Airbus 380.
With the increase of tourists to the area associated industries will
be developed where the local community can engage in fruit and vegetable cultivation, ornamental fish farming as well as horticulture. Unlike in Katunayake where land is not available, there is ample land in Hambantota.
The location of Mattala close to the Yala sanctuary would enable foreign tourists to disembark at MRIA and tour the Southern area of the country, enjoying wildlife and sunny beaches.
On completion of the stage two of the construction and development work, the MRIA will be geared to cater to around seven million passengers per annum.
The aim of Mahinda Chintana to upgrade Naval and Aviation services in Sri Lanka is now becoming a reality. The Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport, once completed, will provide a gamut of services to function as an international aviation centre.
The project will help fulfil the goal of making Sri Lanka an aviation hub in the world, to face regional challenges, and attract foreign revenue and investments.