By Chandani Kirinde
Transport and Civil Aviation Minister Arjuna Ranatunga has vested the Jaffna International Airport (JIA) with the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka (CAA) ahead of the commencement of regional commercial operations in mid-October.
The runway and the runway strip of JIA and the whole portion of the airport land located northwards abutting the runway has been vested with the CAA under the Civil Aviation Authority Act with immediate effect.
The order by the Minister has been made in keeping with the Cabinet decision of 6 August on ‘Development of Palaly Airport of Operation of Regional Commercial Flights’.
The Cabinet memorandum in this regard was submitted by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who noted the need to develop the Palely (Kankesanthurai) Airport for the operation of commercial flights with a view to promoting the tourism industry.
The upgrade of Palaly as a regional airport was undertaken so as to facilitate the operations of A320, Boeing 737, A318 and A319 aircraft.
The first commercial flight operations from JIA to south Indian destinations is expected to commence from mid-October, official sources said.
The Indian destination that the JIA would reach include Chennai, Madurai, New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Varanasi.
Under this project, the airport is getting upgraded into an international airport in two phases with the total cost of the project estimated at around Rs. 20 billion. The Indian Government has agreed to grant Rs. 300 million for the project .
JIA will be managed and operated by the Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Ltd. as the country’s third international airport.
Palaly airport was a Sri Lanka Air Force base and a domestic airport until now.