The BIA yesterday assured that it would continue with almost 90 per cent of its flight operations during the period BIA runway undergoes resurfacing scheduled from Jan. 6 to April 5 next year.
Transport Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva told the media at a special briefing held at the BIA in Katunayake that the resurfacing of the 3,350m long only runway at the airport would be completed within three months by a Chinese Company at a total cost of Rs. 7.2 billion which would be financed by Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Ltd.
The contract would be a joint venture of China National Aero Technology International Engineering Group (CATIC) and Shanghai New Era Airport Design and Research Institute Co. Ltd of Civil Aviation Authority of China. The design review and construction supervision would be conducted by the Netherlands Airport Consultant (NACO) and Engineering Consultancy Ltd. (ECL).
According to the Minister, the airport would be closed for eight hours from 0830hrs to 1630hrs during the runway resurfacing period.
The Minister stressed that the immediate overlay of the runway was compulsory as it had not been resurfaced for the last 30 years and its lifespan would expire next year. Therefore, if it was not renovated next year, all operations would have to be stopped as the runway would not receive the international certification.
Even though the renovation work should have been conducted in 2001, successsive governments had not undertaken the important task for the last 15 years, de Silva stressed.
All contractors and consultants had been selected through approved competitive procurement process, Minister de Silva added.
Due to the closure of the BIA, 20 flights would have to be cancelled per day including 16 Srilankan flights and four foreign flights, Minister de Silva said, adding that a special traffic plan would be implemented by the Minuwangoda and Katunayake police within and around the airport.
Visitors would not be permitted entry to the departure terminal except for differently-abled, child and elderly passengers, the Minister said.
He said the respective airlines would update their passengers on any revision to their flight schedule and the number of check-in counters would be increased to avoid congestion at the airport.
Special security programme would also be conducted and all immigration departure counters would be kept open during the period, the Minister said.
In addition, the military flights during day times would have to be operated from alternative bases and limited domestic operations could be operated from BIA before closure and after re-opening, subject to availability of slots which would not affect scheduled international operations.
The BIA stated that all business jet aircraft during the closure period would be handled at Colombo Airport, Ratmalana while the training flights including instrument training would not be allowed to operate into, over or out of BIA during the runway resurfacing period and no domestic aircraft operations would be allowed to operate into or out of BIA. Such operations could take place from Ratmalana airport.
Although the airport had a capacity of six million passengers, today it handled about nine million passengers. Therefore there was an urgent necessity for another terminal at the BIA. With the assistance of Japan’s JAICA the construction work of another terminal would be launched by April next year. Tenders had already been called for the proposal and the construction would be completed within two years. Once the new terminal was added to the BIA, it would have a capacity of 20 million passengers, the Minister added.
BIA has a single runway constructed and commissioned in 1986 under the Colombo International Airport Development Project Phase I and it had been designed to conform to ICAO international standard for airports for 20 years with 10,000 movements annually. Currently there were around 175 aircraft movements per day.