President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe jointly inaugurated the construction work of Phase 2 of Bandaranaike International Airport Development Project today (September 7).
Within minutes after the arrival, Prime Minister Abe, together with President Rajapaksa proceeded to the site of the two-story passenger terminal building at BIA to unveil the construction of the new expansion project. The BIA Development Project is being constructed with funds provided to Sri Lanka through a Japanese loan facility. The airport is being expanded towards the objective of developing Sri Lanka as an aviation hub in the region.
The project is expected to generate significant economic benefits with the financing scheduled to be used for the construction of a two-story passenger terminal building with two terminals for arrivals and departures. It will also include a number of aerobridges, an aircraft parking apron and a taxiway.
The expansion of the airport will not only facilitate commercial activity but will also help accommodate the growing number of tourists into the country. From Japan, the number of tourists to Sri Lanka has significantly increased, from approximately 17,000 in 2005 to more than 31,000 in 2013. Tourism, in general, has also seen drastic increases with Sri Lanka having recently welcomed its one millionth tourist in 2014.
Sri Lanka and Japan share a long history with diplomatic relations having been officially established in 1952 when a Japanese Mission was established in Colombo. Subsequently, Sri Lanka established a Legation in Tokyo in 1953. To mark this 60-year anniversary, President Rajapaksa made an official visit to Japan last year.
It has been 24 years since a Japanese Prime Minister last visited Sri Lanka