The Tourism Ministry will launch a special programme to increase the number of international airlines and private jets landing at Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA), as an attempt to lure tourists to the southeast region of the country.
While several concessions are already being offered to attract international airlines and increase passenger traffic to the airport, Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga said rounds of discussion have been held to promote MRIA to wealthy businessmen to land their private jets.
The airport has suspended the US $ 60 export tax for a period of two years and has also exempted airlines from paying the landing charges.
Furthermore, Minister Ranatunga shared that steps are taken to develop MRIA as a transit hub.
Plans are also afoot to maintain a duty-free shopping complex for the convenience of tourists. Permission to maintain communication services and bank counters have been granted, the minister said.
The aircraft maintenance and repair facilities will soon be established at MIRA as planned, with the government giving the project special attention, Minister Ranatunga said. He shared that the project will kick off with foreign investments or as a joint venture.
For the first nine months of 2021, MRIA saw the landing of 518 aircraft and has witnessed the passenger traffic increase by 52 percent when compared with the corresponding period in 2020. The airport can accommodate 27,859 passengers.
MIRA handled 21.5 metric tonnes of cargo and observed freight operations expand by about 10 percent for the January to October 2021 period, when compared with 2020.