(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – The government is preparing to provide relief to airlines that start scheduled flights from Ratmalana Airport.
Accordingly, it is expected to reduce the airport departure tax levied by these airlines by 50 percent, said the Minister of Tourism, Prasanna Ranatunga.
The concession will be active for one year from the 27th of March. The relevant Cabinet Memorandum was submitted to the Cabinet for approval, the Minister said.
After nearly 55 years, Ratmalana International Airport is scheduled to resume its international flights from the 27th of this month. Maldives national carrier Maldivian Air and a private Sri Lankan airline FITS AIR, have already agreed to schedule international flights to Malé, according to the Minister.
Previously, the departure tax at Ratmalana Airport was reduced by 50% for a period of one year from October 1, 2020.
According to the new proposal, airlines that start scheduled flights from Ratmalana Airport from the 27th of March will be charged only US $ 30 from the US $ 60 departure tax.
Plans have been made to promote Ratmalana International Airport as a new destination for low cost flights. The Minister said that the potential of the airport for such regional operations has been identified and the Civil Aviation Authority and the Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Ltd. have invested their funds in this regard.
The government is also working to transform the Ratmalana Airport into an international airport serving a regional destination and will launch direct flights to the Maldives after 55 years, he said.
The national carrier of Maldives, Maldivian, announced the launch of international regional flight operations between its main hub, Velana Airport and Colombo International Airport – Ratmalana from 27th March 2022 onwards. Maldivian Air will operate scheduled flights between Sri Lanka and the Maldives three times a week and the frequency will be increased up to five from May 2022 onwards.
Ratmalana International Airport was established in 1938 and regional international flights were not operational due to the commencement of flights from Katunayake Bandaranaike International Airport from 1968.
Ratmalana Airport is being redeveloped as a regional international airport implementing a proposal made by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in his policy statement to develop Sri Lanka as a regional aviation hub.
The present government, have taken steps to develop the Ratmalana International Airport in five major areas. It is to be developed as a local aviation hub, a recreational aviation center and an aviation training center.
In addition, targeting high income earners measures will be taken to promote the arrival of private jets to Sri Lanka and to meet the requirements of ground technical services for private jets such as hangars and jet refueling.