In Sri Lanka, the Jaffna international airport located in Tamil-majority North and built with Indian assistance, will commence its operations from Thursday. President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickresminghe along with other dignitaries are scheduled to grace the inaugural event. Alliance Air, the subsidiary of Air India, will send its inaugural flight to the airport with invitees from the aviation industry.
The airlines will operate three flights to Chennai, Tiruchirapalli and Kochi in South India. Sri Lankan transport minister Arjuna Ranatunga said the airport marks an important development for the region as well as whole of Sri Lanka.
Jaffna airport was operational during 60s and 70s but was closed down following eruption of LTTE war. The airport has been developed afresh and runway length has been extended from 950 to 1400 metres to facilitate ATR 72 Aircraft carrying 70 passengers.
Under phase 2, the runway length will be extended up to 2300 metres allowing for bigger aircrafts. The decision to develop the Jaffna Airport to operate regional commercial flights was taken on August 6.
The Cabinet memorandum in this regard was submitted by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to develop the airport to operate commercial flights and to promote tourism. Sri Lankan government is also planning to develop Batticalao airport in eastern province to improve connectivity.