Mattala Airport in full throttle
Posted on January 26th, 2017

Courtesy The Daily Mirror

 Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA), which was once dubbed as a ghost airport by both local and foreign commentators, has suddenly turned into life becoming one of the busiest airports in the world, due to the temporary closure of Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) for the relaying of its decade-old runaway.

With the operations at BIA increasingly becoming chaotic, an increasing number of airlines has started flying in and out of MRIA carrying thousands of passengers on a daily basis.

According to MRIA officials, at least 14 airlines, including state-owned SriLankan Airlines and some charter flights, are now flying to Mattala, saving millions of dollars in foreign exchange to the country.

Mirror Business spotted a few of these flights from new airlines such as Sriwijaya Air, an Indonesian airline based in Jakarta, and Jordan Aviation, an airline based in Amman, flying in an out of MRIA through Flightradar24, a global flight tracking service that provides with real-time information.

Even when BIA was in full operation, the low-cost carrier, flydubai, has been making regular flights to Mattala since the opening of the airport. SriLankan Airlines flights to Shanghai and Beijing also used to make stopovers at MRIA.

The airport and aviation experts however question the selection of the location for Sri Lanka’s second international airport due to the presence of strong cross winds in the area, which makes a pilot’s job much harder in landing a passenger aircraft.

Also, frequent bird strikes and unavailability of parallel taxi ways and enough runaway exits have also been highlighted as major shortcomings of MRIA.

However, they do not appear to consider them as reasons to abandon the facility, which can be easily made financially viable by way of fixing some of these limitations and making the airport attractive by offering competitive handling charges, etc.

However, the coalition regime, which came into power promising full-stop to the Rajapaksa vanity projects, took no time to turn one of MRIA’s unused terminals into a warehouse for storing rice.

However, the government is reportedly finding bidders to sell the airport, likely to a Chinese operator, to settle the debt drawn from China to construct the airport.

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4 Responses to “Mattala Airport in full throttle”

  1. Ananda-USA Says:

    Another so-called WHITE ELEPHANT turns out to be a money spinner,, because of BUNGLING by the Yamapalanaya in properly scheduling BIA tarmac repairsand rerouting flights to Mattala!

    Why is it that Sri Lanka should NOT DEPEND on ONE airport to serve its economic lifeline …. the touristy industry … and needs a FULLY FUNCTIONAL SECOND INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT ESCAPES the pea-brained leaders of the Yamapalanaya?

    Once again, the INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENTS of the MR/UPFA government, the Mattala Airport, the Freeways connectying Hambantota to Colombo and the rest of the country, the Hotels and Conference Halls in Hambantota come to the RESCUE of the Yamapalanaya.

    This was the VISION of the Mahinda Rajapaksa government, that in the fulness of time, a VIBRANT ECONOMIC ZONE would develop around Hambantota, supported not only by the Mattala Airport, but also the Hambantota Port, connected tothe rural hinterland of the Western, Sabaragamuwa, Uva, Central and Eastern Provinces to deliver unheard of economic prosperity to the rest of the island and not only the suburbs of Colombo.

    Later, that prosperity would extend northwards to an economic zone centered around yet another vibrant port and economic zone around the port of Trincomalee.

    But, in their haste to seize political power, the Yamapalanaya DEBUNKED the VISION as a
    “White Elephant” Dream, but now is surviving because of the presence of those very same White Elephants!

    Had these Yamapalana TRAITORS lived in our ancient past created by the hydralic/reservoir infrastructure agricultural systems built by our visionary engineering kings, they would have criticized those national infrastructure developments as “White Elephants” as we.. Yet, those systems served our people well for over 600 years until foreign invasions drove our people to more defensible locations in the South!

    Small MINDS without PRIDE IN OUR OWN HISTORY, see only white elephants in what otrhers build, and insuperable insurmountable barriers that prevent their own plans.


  2. Charles Says:

    Even the then considered futuristic Charles De Gaul Airport in France was criticised at the beginning. Mattala Airport will surely be a popular airport if properly handled and given enough publicity to attract the attention of the world Air Lines.

  3. Dilrook Says:

    Strange how white elephants suddenly turn into hens laying golden eggs.

    Mattala, Magampura, Southern Expressway and other expressways and Norochcholai are some examples of newly found usefulness of what were called white elephants.

    The only remaining white elephant is the parliament.

  4. Ananda-USA Says:


    There are 9 more true white elephants remaining in the country: the Provincial Councils!

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