The ‘MahindaChinthana – Vision for the Future’, the manifesto of His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksa put forward for the first time, the concept of hub status for Sri Lanka in five sectors, namely Energy, Commerce, Maritime, Aviation and Knowledge. Envisioning Sri Lanka as an aviation hub marked a turning point in the approach to the development of the national aviation industry. The MahindaChinthana envisions a development plan well integrated with other economic activities. It also aims at decentralizing the development activities across the island so that their benefits will flow down to all citizens. This includes the development of existing airports, the setting up of new airports, air – sea travel integration, making air travel more economical and the development of domestic aviation.
The hub status in aviation is based on the strategic location of Sri Lanka with respect to the International air routes. Sri Lanka is located midway between the aviation hubs in the Asia – Pacific region and the Middle East. It is also located close to the equator. This coupled with an exemplary safety record and state of the art air navigation services makes Sri Lanka a natural candidate for an aviation hub.
The Phase 2 Stage 2
In 2009, the separatist war ended with the decisive defeat of terrorism and His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksa ushered in peace to the island. With the dawn of peace air travel to Sri Lanka surgedupward and the capacity limits of BIA were soon exhausted. The increased tourist arrivals included those from the Far East. Several more airlines commenced operations to BIA. The annual passenger movements through BIA exceeded the designed figure of 6 million in successive years starting from 2011.
Under the second stage of the second phase of the BIA development project that will be launched on 7th September 2014, the capacity is to be increased to 15 million passenger movements per annum. An additional finger pier will be constructed to the west of the existing one. A two tier passenger terminal with arrivals and departures physically separated as found in most modern airports will also be constructed. A rapid exit to the Colombo Katunayake Highway will be provided directly from the terminal. Stage 2 itself is to be implemented in two stages and the first stage is scheduled to be completed by early 2017.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is providing assistance for this stage with the loan agreement being signed directly with Airport & Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Ltd.The continued assistance from Japan is indicative of the strong bilateral relations that exist between Sri Lanka and Japan. Japan has been a major contributor in the national development of Sri Lanka for which the entire nation is grateful. The strong bonds dating back to the period of Japan’s reawakening after the 2nd world war are cherished by both countries. Once the Phase 2 Stage 2 of BIA development is complete it will stand as a monument of this lasting friendship.
His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksa and, Prime Minster of Japan His Excellency Shinzō Abe will jointly launch the project at 1 p.m. on 7th September 2014 thus marking another milestone in Sri Lanka’s journey towards achieving hub status in aviation as envisioned in the Mahinda Chinthana – vision for the future, ushering in the golden era of the Sri Lankan aviation industry.