Flights to major Indian cities from Palaly airport in the Jaffna district are expected to begin by September. Transport and Civil Aviation Minister Arjuna Ranatunga announced this on Friday, while participating at the inauguration ceremony to upgrade the currently military- run airport to an international one.
The Rs 2,250 million project with substantial funding from India, will upgrade this domestic airport into an international airport in two phases. The Indian government had agreed to grant Rs 300 million for the transformation project initially.
“Currently people in the north face much difficulties and unnecessary delays when they travel to major Indian cities. We are hoping to launch this service from the north while deploying regional airliners with seating arrangements for 80- 100 initially,” Minister Ranatunga added.
The first phase is already underway at the airport with the re-laying of a 950 metre runway. This runway would be extended upto 1.5 kilometres and eventually 2.3 kilometres in the second phase.
The upgraded airport is expected to accommodate aircraft within an area of 1.8 square kilometres. Flights are expected to operate between Sri Lanka and India’s Bengaluru (Bangalore), Kochi, Hyderabad, and Mumbai airports.