Tuesday, July 5, 2022

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Mattala and Ratmalana airports up for  joint ventures

The Government is seriously considering the possibility of forming joint ventures for Mattala and Ratmalana international airports separately due to its heavy losses of revenue in dwindling traffic and passenger slump in the present social unrest and economic crisis.

Both these airports are not generating enough income even to meet the operating expenses including the payment of salaries of its staff, transport costs and maintenance expenditure, a senior official of the Ports and Aviation Ministry said.

The new administration is looking at the option of resurrecting the two airports by entering into joint venture partnerships with a foreign aviation companies because the profits as well as the losses will be shared by the parties at an agreed ratio.

If two airports are folded, its buildings and facilities are still there and someone else would have to take it over on long term lease basis, he said.

“Sometimes back Airport Authority of India has submitted its business plan for operating the loss-making Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA) by entering into a 70-30 joint venture agreement, he disclosed pointing out that but  it was not a sell-out”

However this business plan was not materialized due to pre-conditions put forward by the Sri Lanka side , he added.

Mattala Rajapaksa International airport has now become the lease used airport in the world and it has earned meager revenue of around Rs.474 million during the past eight year period since its opening in 2013, a recent report prepared by the treasury revealed.

Its expenditure was whopping Rs 14.4 billion while the T income generation of the Katunayake Bandaranaike International Airport is being used for the maintenance of Mattala Airport.

The construction cost of US$ 247.7 million was borne from loans provided by China Exim Bank ($190 million), the China Harbor Engineering Company ($ 40 million) and the balance by Sri Lankan government.

 Sri Lanka’s first and oldest international airport, the Ratmalana airport upgraded as Colombo International Airport- Ratmalana was reopened on March 27 after nearly five decades.

According to aviation ministry official, a flight from the Maldives landed at Sri Lanka airport, the first flight arrived there in 54 years.

It was planned to operate the 50-seater Maldivian flight according to a schedule of three flights every week to Colombo and it has to expand up to five flights per week in the coming months.

The national carrier Maldivian, the first to land at the Ratmalana airport as the first international regional flight operations from Velana Airport, was called off within 96 hours.

It has been revealed that some of the top officials had suggested this route without even assessing whether this route is marketable or not.

At the moment this airport operation has been folded and it is not generating any income after spending around Rs 6 million on the exorbitant gala launching ceremony with a celebratory water cannon salute upon arrival of the inaugural Maldivian flight, report divulged.

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