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Night flights again at BIA

KATUNAYAKE: Plans have been finalised to resume round the clock operations at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) soon.

The airport is now shut down from 10.30 p.m to 4.30 a.m daily due to security considerations. The closure was effected on June 10, on appeals made by airline representatives to the Government.

Security has been beefed up and all measures are now being taken to ensure the safety of passengers, airliners and their crew.

The decision to re-open the Airport for night operations was reached at a special discussion held yesterday at the Ministry of Ports and Aviation on the initiative of Ports and Aviation Minister Chamal Rajapaksa.

Tourism Minister Milinda Moragoda, Foreign Employment and Welfare Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, Tourism Deputy Minister Faizer Mustapha, Senior Advisor to the President Basil Rajapaksa, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Chairman, Sri Lanka Tourist Board Renton de Alwis and Air Force Commander Air Marshal Rohan Goonetileke were present.

As almost all airlines continued to fly to Colombo after adjusting their schedules during this period, there was no significant drop in passenger numbers.

Airlines are likely to take some more time to adjust their flight schedules for 24-hour operations.

New protective measures including advanced radar systems will be implemented at the airport. It has also been proposed to shift some parts of the adjacent Air Force base to another location.

Minister Chamal Rajapaksa has ordered extra security measures for the BIA in the light of recent incidents.

The Air Force will continue to assist the airport’s own security staff in maintaining safety and security procedures.

“This will definitely be a boost for tourism. We look forward to welcoming more visitors when the Airport resumes 24-hour operations,” a spokesman for the Sri Lanka Tourist Board said.

Travel agents and the business community also welcomed the move, saying it would create a positive impression on the country among tourists and the investor community.

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