Soft opening of Palaly airport on 15 Oct.

The soft opening of the Palaly Airport will be held on 15 October with a meeting on the progress of the airport held yesterday with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Civil Aviation Minister Arjuna Ranatunga, Foreign Minister Thilak Marapana and Tamil National Alliance Parliamentarians Mavai Senathirajah and M.A. Sumanthiran were present at the meeting, according to an update released by Temple Trees.

Officials present at the meeting said that as much as 30% of the construction had been completed and a soft opening will be held on 15 October. The Palaly Airport is being given an upgrade at a cost of Rs. 22 billion, according to Minister Ranatunga. Customs, Immigration and warehousing facilities are also expected to set up at the airport.

Once completed, the strategically-located Palaly Airport will have the capacity to handle direct commercial flights to countries like India, Australia, China, Japan, Middle East nations, and several European countries.

Development of the Northern Province was underscored as a top priority for the Government’s development agenda and the Government believes an international airport in the peninsula would boost the region’s economy significantly.

The airport will be developed in two stages: expansions of the runway and related facilities will be completed during the first phase, while permanent terminal buildings will be constructed during the second phase, once the airport attracts a significant amount of air traffic.

The extent of the Palaly runway will be expanded to 3,500 metres, and it will have the capability to handle large passenger aircraft such as the Airbus A320 and A321.

Located approximately 16 km north of Jaffna, Palaly is a Sri Lanka Air Force base and a domestic airport. The airport was built by the British Royal Air Force during the WWII. After independence, Palaly Airport was used as the second international airport of the country, to operate flights to South India.

(Daily FT)