The Jaffna International Airport was declared open by President Maithripala Sirisena in Palaly today. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation Arjuna Ranatunga along with other dignitaries graced the inaugural event. Sri Lankan transport minister Arjuna Ranatunga said the airport built with Indian assistance marks an important development for the region as well as the whole of Sri Lanka. Marking inauguration of Jaffna International Airport, Alliance Air (the subsidiary of Air India) launched a flight to the airport with invitees from the aviation industry on Thursday. Jaffna will be the airline’s 55th and first international addition to the list.
The runway length has been extended from 950 to 1,400 meters to facilitate ATR 72 aircraft carrying 70 passengers. Formerly known as Palaly Airport and Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) Palaly, the airport has a history tracing back to Second World War wherein it was built by the Royal Air Force of Britain and served as the country’s second international airport before being taken over by the Sri Lanka Air Force. Under phase 2, the runway length will be extended up to 2300 meters allowing for bigger aircraft. The decision to develop the Jaffna Airport to operate regional commercial flights was taken on August 6.
The Cabinet memorandum in this regard was submitted by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to develop the airport to operate commercial flights and to promote tourism. Sri Lankan government is also planning to develop Batticaloa airport in the eastern province to improve connectivity.