Sri Lanka opened its third international airport yesterday, paving the way for travellers to fly into the Northern Peninsula of the island.
An ATR 72-600 aircraft carrying the Air India Chairman and Alliance Air CEO amongst other staff and journalists, was welcomed at the Jaffna International Airport (JIA) with a water salute and great enthusiasm for the possibilities ahead.
The JIA was previously known as Palaly Airport and was primarily used as a military airbase and for domestic flights. Further construction is due to take place over two more phases with the next three months focusing on extending the current runway. The final phase will see the runway extended to allow JIA to handle larger aircraft.
Commercial flights from Chennai to Jaffna are due to start on the 1st of November this year, with plans of covering Batticaloa on Sri Lanka’s East Coast as well. Air India has also been permitted to fly from Jaffna to Colombo, although it is unsure when they will start.
Almost all international flights currently operate via the Bandaranaike International Airport which is closer to Colombo, so the hope is that the JIA will be able to reduce the crowds at BIA, while also reducing road travel time for tourists.