Rs. 1.1 b boost for Batticaloa tourism

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The renovated runway of the Batticaloa Domestic Airport was declared open by President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday. An SLAF MA-60 aircraft carrying President Maithripala Sirisena landed on the airstrip to mark the commissioning of the runway. State defense minister Ruwan Wijewardene, and Air Force Commander Air Marshal Gagan Bulathsinghala were also present – pix by Pradeep Pathirana and President’s Media

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President Maithripala Sirisena on Sunday declared open the renovated Batticaloa airport – which was previously used only for military operations – for civil aviation, enabling direct air travel to the East.

The extended runway and passenger terminal at the Sri Lanka Air Force Station was ceremonially opened following the landing of a SLAF MA-60 aircraft which the President was aboard.

Commander of the Air Force, Air Marshal GP Bulathsinghala welcomed the President.

Renovation of the airstrip was initiated in December 2012 by the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the extension of the runway from 1,070 meters to 1,560 meters was assigned to the Road Development Authority (RDA). However, the renovation was halted in November 2015 with the work partially completed.

On a request made by the Sri Lanka Air Force, a Cabinet decision was taken in December last year to entrust the remaining construction work on the runway to the Air Force.

The Air Force, according to preliminary plans by the SLAF, with the supervision of the Directorate of Civil Engineering, finished the remaining construction work on the runway and completed the new passenger terminal building with a material cost of Rs. 290 million and with free labour and other resources. The Air Force completed the project in May, 100 days after it started.

The total cost of the renovation of the runway and the newly-constructed passenger terminal building was Rs. 1.143 billion.

The opening of the renovated Batticaloa airport for civilian air traffic could boost tourism to the East as tourists disembarking from the international airport in Katunayake will be able to take a domestic flight to the East, according to Sri Lanka Tourism Chief Paddy Vithana.

Minister Daya Gamage, State Minister Ruwan Wijewardene, Deputy Ministers Amir Ali and M.L.A.M. Hisbullah, Members of Parliament, Eastern Province Governor Austin Fernando, the Chief Minister, Defence Secretary Karunasena Hettiarachchi, IGP Pujith Jayasundera and Government officials were present at the occasion.

Source : http://www.ft.lk/article/554013/Rs–1-1-b-boost-for-Batticaloa-tourism#sthash.GZpKFqka.dpuf

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