The day March 18th, 2013 will go down in history as a significant day for Sri Lanka’s aviation sector, as we opened our second international airport at Mattala Hambantota, with two UAE airlines making ceremonial flights. Mahinda Rajapakshe International Airport (MRIA), can also be called Sri Lanka’s second gateway to the world. It is also the only available air strip in Sri lanka that could land the world’s largest aircraft – the A380.
Mattala International Airport & its support projects are funded by the Chinese Government. Construction began in late November 2009 and it is implemented as an eco friendly airport. In the first phase of development, all basic facilities have been completed, which includes a runway, taxiways and parking facilities. It could accommodate any airline in the world, including the majestic Airbus A380. In the second stage of development, facilities such as an aircraft servicing and repairing centre, flying school, maintenance hub, private jet parking, cargo terminals, technical training centre, hotels, and many more facilities are scheduled to be completed. Upon completion this will bring massive infrastructural development to the region.
The airport is currently able to accommodate one million passengers per annum, but the government plans to expand it to handle five million passengers by 2015, and by 2020 to handle a passenger capacity of 21 million. The forecast cargo volume is 50,000 metric tons and air traffic
Tourism & Hospitality of Uva Province
This project comes as a blessing to the tourism industry. The development of the Airport and its surrounding facilities is a key part of the Government’s strategy to boost tourism and achieve its long-term goal of attracting 2.5 million visitors per year by 2016. Due to its close proximity to tourist hotspots such as Yala National Park, Udawalawe Elephant reserve, and other religious and historic places, it is almost guaranteed to boost the region’s tourism and hospitality sectors. Also, because it offers short transit times to major tourist destinations such as Nuwara Eliya, Arugam Bay, Willpattu National Park etc, it will be a major selling point for potential tourists. The government also hopes this would bring additional tourists to the Uva province.