Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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Hingurakgoda domestic Airport upgrades to international level as strategic asset 

The government has decided to modernise the Hingurakgoda Domestic Airport, an antiquated airport in Sri Lanka, to facilitate international flight operations. 

This airport, originally constructed for the Royal Air Force of England during World War II, was known as RAF Minneriya at the time.

Plans have been unveiled to revamp the Hingurakgoda Domestic Airport, a historic airfield with roots dating back to World War II.

Now, the government aims to elevate this antiquated facility into a bustling international airport, poised to drive economic growth and connectivity.

The Ministry of Ports, Shipping, and Aviation said that the 2024 budget allocates a substantial sum of 2 billion rupees for the initial construction and development activities at Hingurakgoda Airport.

The first phase of development will focus on extending the existing runway. Currently measuring 2287 meters in length and 46 meters in width, the runway will be expanded to a total length of 2500 meters.

This enhancement will enable the airport to accommodate larger aircraft, including the popular Airbus A320 and Boeing B737 models.The comprehensive modernization project is estimated to cost a total of 17 billion rupees.

Sri Lankan aviation stands at a pivotal moment as it considers the transformation of Hingurakgoda Airport, also known as Minneriya Airport, from a primarily Air Force facility to a fully-fledged international civilian airport. 

This initiative, underlined by a substantial budget of Rs.2 billion (about US $ 6.5 million), has enthused a national debate. 

It’s not merely a matter of financial allocation but also financial economics with extensive consequences that could reshape Sri Lanka’s aviation landscape and its position in regional connectivity.

The government’s plan for Hingurakgoda Airport is marked by ambitious upgrades, including runway extensions, advanced air navigation systems, a new passenger terminal and a state-of-the-art air traffic control (ATC) tower, which will require a massive budget beyond the proposed allocation. 

These developments aim to elevate the airport from its current military utilisation towards serving a growing international civil aviation demand. However, this move raises crucial questions about its necessity and practicality, especially in a nation with five international airports.

Critics point out that such a significant investment might be overreaching, given Sri Lanka’s existing aviation infrastructure and the country’s pressing economic challenges.

 The suggestion is that these resources could be more beneficially deployed in other critical sectors needing attention or it’s about assessing the airport’s financial viability and potential role in boosting tourism and local development. 

The experience with underused facilities like Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA) appears over this project, indicating that the demand for another international airport might be overestimated.

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