Sunday, March 07, 2021

Palaly Airport revival gets underway with Indian experts review

India is now leveraging its aviation expertise to further develop Palaly international airport keeping its foothold in the North after the end of war in 2009.

It has been actively involved in the reconstruction and redevelopment of the Northern Province.

A team of experts of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) will be arriving in the island soon to inquire into ways and means of further improvement of the airport and development activities in the second phase of the project, according to the Airport and Aviation Services Ltd (AASL).

The project is being implemented under three phases and the first 950 metres of the main runway, already being used for aircraft operations, will be upgraded in the first phase of the project.

Under the second stage the existing runway will be further extended.

Under the third stage of expansion the runway is to be expanded to 2.3 km in order to handle large passenger aircraft such as the Airbus A320 and A321.

Out of the total cost of investment of Rs.2.25 billion, the government was to allocate Rs. 1.95 billion while the Indian assistance will provide Rs.300 million, a senior Finance Ministry official said.

The Indian government is scheduled to transfer necessary funds for the second phase in accordance with the MOU signed by the two countries in 2018, he revealed.

Seven key areas including the runway expansion at the airport have been identified for further development, he added.

Facilities at the airport such as terminal modification, electricity supplies, utility services and transit facilities are also to be improved as stated under the MOU.

India has expedited its development activities in the island nation following China’s emergence as one of the largest developers of strategic infrastructure in Sri Lanka, a business analyst said.

Palaly Airport is important geo politically as it is located in the sensitive Tamil-dominated Northern Province, traditionally closer to India, he pointed out.

07/03/21 Bandula Sirimanna/Sunday Times

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