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Billed to be South Asia’s only environmental friendly airport :

‘Mattala airport to be tourism, cargo hub end 2012’

Foundation stone laying ceremony for main passenger terminal today :

The $ 209 million Mattala airport, will be converted to a tourism and cargo hub for Southern Province which will be a boon to the tourism and export industries. Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa will lay the foundation stone for the construction of the main passenger terminal building today while Aviation Minister Priyankara Jayaratne and Hambantota District Parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa will also be present.


Prasanna Wickremasuriya

The airport which will be built from funds from the China Harbour Engineering Corporation, will see that the first phase will be completed by end 2012 on a 800 hectare block of land while the second phase will be built on the remaining 1,200 hectares. The new airport will also target the arrival of a million passengers annually and the runway, will also accommodate even the state of art A 380 aircraft, which will be 3,500 feet in length and 75 metres in width.

The Mattala airport will be used as a principal cargo hub where vegetable and fruit exporters in southern Sri Lanka will also get an opportunity for exporting their produce which are perishables to the Gulf with the minimum transit times while the tourists who will arrive there will also have the minimum transit times to holiday destinations such as Nuwara Eliya and Arugam Bay, Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Chairman Colonel Prasanna Wickremasuriya told Daily News Business yesterday.

The Mattala airport, will also stress on having 60 percent of the flights for cargo and 40 percent for passengers and these ratios will also be increased with the passage of time.

The emphasis on exports will also be stressed with the passage of time from the Mattala airport as the government has also felt the need for the introduction of a second international airport for a long time, the AASL Chief said.

The government will be using the Mattala airport as a tourism hub which will afford an opportunity for the passengers who come for additional tourism programs that will be launched where there will be lots of value addition to the tourism sector such as the introduction of surfing while this new airport will also serve the purpose of the tourists who want to travel up to Nuwara Eliya.

The strategic location of the airport will also be significant in the light of the Southern Province accounting for 37 percent of Sri Lanka’s expatriates employed in the Gulf and they will also be enabled to emplane from Mattala to their destinations in Oman, Dubai and Kuwait.

The Central Environmental Authority has provided the airport the approval for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and after a technical study of the area and there are no absolute issues with the location in sharp contrast to the earlier location of Weerawila which was seen as detrimental to bird life.

The Chairman also said that the airport would be the only environmentally friendly airport in South Asia where the government would also be targeting to get Green Status as well.

 

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