Palaly International Airport Project to Accomodate Airbus.

Project will start within next month to develop the existing runway up to 3,500 m to facilitate landing of A320 aircraft.

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A project to develop the Palaly Airport at a cost of Rs. 20 billion is due to begin within the next two months, Vice Chairman of Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Ltd, (AASL) Priyantha Kariyapperuma told the Sunday Observer yesterday.

The Palaly Airport which currently operates as a military airbase will be upgraded as a regional airport with the completion of the development project. Work on the project is expected to commence once the suppliers of the project have been fanalised.

“A few weeks ago, a group of over 60 officials from AASL, Civil Aviation Authority, Road Development Authority, Immigration and Emigration Department and the Water Supply and Drainage Board made an inspection tour to the airport,” said Kariyapperuma.

Following inspections the RDA decided to develop the existing runway up to 3,500 m to facilitate landing of A320 aircraft.

Located approximately 16 km north of Jaffna, Palaly is a Sri Lanka Air Force base and a domestic airport. The airport was built by the British Royal Air Force during the WWII. After independence, the Palaly Airport was used as the second international airport of the country to operate flights to South India.

In February this year, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe at the District Development Committee meeting in Jaffna said Palaly will be developed with local funds, thus ending the long-awaited Indian investment for the development of the airport. The premier also said that passenger flights to international destinations such as India, Malaysia, Australia, China, Japan and Middle-East will be operated from Palalay.

Minister of State for Civil Aviation India, Jayant Sinha, had told the Indian Parliament that the Ministry is yet to approve the investment despite the fact that Airport and Aviation of India had already signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of External Affairs of Sri Lanka to prepare a Detailed Project Report (DPR) to develop the Palaly Airport in Sri Lanka.

In the wake of a large number of Chinese investments on infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka, India has also expressed its interest in investing in major infrastructure projects such as Palaly and Mattala Mahinda Rajapaksa International Airport.

Meanwhile, Deputy Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation Ashok Abeysinghe told the Sunday Observer that another round of discussion with Indian officials will be held this month with regard to the development of the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport.

Credits : Sunday Observer