MRIA Bleeds Rs 100M Every Month


Even though the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA) loses more than Rs 100 million every month, it will not be sold but instead be restructured, Ports, Shipping and Aviation Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said.

He added, the airport will be converted into a profitable joint venture between the Government and the private sector through a collective agreement with a suitable investor.

The Minister was speaking while on an inspection tour of MRIA on Saturday, 11 June.

Meanwhile, it has been revealed that 545 employees are assigned to this airport, which currently has no planes arriving, and that some of them are being transported daily by bus from Colombo to Mattala.

The Minister said, the MRIA is currently being maintained with funds generated by the Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake and that the USD 210 million loan obtained from China for the construction of the MRIA had yet to be repaid.

De Silva also said the MRIA was built in elephant territory and that was the sole reason for elephant and wildlife attacks. He said in a bid to prevent these attacks, cultivating sesame in and around the area has been contemplated.

“Planting sesame would aid in the control of wild elephant attacks. There is no need to privatise the airport but restructuring is vital. There should be an additional airport for emergency landings; otherwise flights will have to be diverted to Chennai. Therefore, even if we are not in favour of the MRIA, it should be maintained,” he said.

BY Thameenah Razeek