SRI Lanka’s main gateway will operate mostly night flights for three months in 2017, from January 6 to April 6, so that the airport’s 30-year-old runway can undergo urgent repairs.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) informed industry stakeholders last week that flights won’t be permitted between 08.30 and 16.30 at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) for the period.
The dates and hours of closure were decided in consultation with airline operators, said the CAA.
Operators said that the repairs are necessary and agreed to day flights being rescheduled to operate during after hours. Ruha Jasinghe, secretary of the Sri Lanka Association of Airline Representatives said the repairs are needed and long overdue, and are looking at ways to try and reduce the inconvenience to passengers.
This is the first time overlaying work is being carried out on the airport’s runway since it completed construction in 1986.
BIA handles an average of 170 flights per day with roughly 60 flights taking place during daytime. Last year, 8.2 million passengers passed through the airport.
SriLankan Airlines CEO Suren Ratwatte told local media that they are now working on the new schedules. Other sources added that the national carrier would be the most affected due to the volume of flights they operate.
Etihad Airways general manager Kumar De Silva said they would not be impacted as they operate day flights only during the summer.
According to officials, there is also a likelihood that some flights will operate out of Mahinda Rajapaksa International Airport in cases of emergency.
A meeting will be held later this month to iron out how carriers will operate during this period, stated the CAA.