The Sri Lankan government has decided that flights arriving from the Maldives will land at Ratmalana Airport instead of the country’s main international airport, Bandaranaike International Airport.
Ratmalana Airport was established in 1935 as the country’s first international airport. The airport is now used for domestic operations and to accommodate some private jets. A flying school is also run at the site. While 75 flights operate to the airport daily, the Sri Lankan cabinet has authorized the airport to be used for international operation.
Speaking to the Sri Lankan media, the country’s Tourism Minister, Prasanna Ranatunga said flights arriving from Maldives and some southern parts of India will land at Ratmalana Airport. The minister said discussions regarding the change have been held with the flag carrier of Maldives, Maldivian and private airline Fly Me, which recently began operation to the country.
“Over 9,000 Maldivians reside in the Ratmalana area for education and other purposes. Many of those who travel from southern areas of India stay in Bambalapitiya, Kolpity nearby Ratmalana. Therefore, the airport will be targeted towards such visitors,” said the minister.
Sri Lanka’s borders remain closed as a precautionary measure against the COVID-19 pandemic. The Sri Lankan government previously planned to open the airport on August 1, but pushed back the date after new cases were identified. A tentative date on which the airports will be reopened has not been announced.