After 30 years of continuous operation, the runways at the Bandaranaike International Airport in Sri Lanka are being revamped. Heavy operations and weather conditions have lead to cracks being seen on the runways and authorities are acting immediately by keeping the airport closed from 08.30 am to 4.30 pm every day for resurfacing purposes. For passengers planning a holiday in Sri Lanka, it is important to keep the following details in mind.
These operations began on the 6th of January 2017 and will continue until the 6th of April 2017. Until then, passengers are requested to corporate with authorities and arrive five hours early prior to check in so as to avoid delays and combat extra congestion predicted during the night time flights. In addition to that, check in counters for each flight will close 90 minutes before scheduled departure time, as compared to the usual 60 minutes time frame.
On an average day, when the airport is open 24 hours, it handles 175 flights and about 25000 passengers. These 175 flights are being handled by 25 airlines and 75 of those are owned by Sri Lankan airlines. For the duration of this development project, many flights have either been canceled or re-scheduled and although this can be uncomfortable for passengers, it is our duty to corporate with authorities trying to make the airport a better and safer place.
Sri Lankan airlines have sent in an excess amount of staff to handle the rush during the few hours that the airport remains functional. From the few days that this schedule has been put into place, some excessive congestion has been reported in the early morning hours but was efficiently handled by all staff at the airport. All 27 immigration counters at arrivals are manned at all hours to allow arriving traffic to move faster. Departure immigration counters are also increased by three more. According to a passenger arriving from Chennai, the customs officials were handling passenger traffic very well, with a turnover of just about 20 minutes.
The security department is also doing an efficient job with extra staff and extra shifts being operated, along with more x-ray machines to allow baggage to move faster. Passengers are restricted from bringing friends and relatives inside the airport, hence reducing the congestion further. Porters are working extra hard to cover up on their earnings since the working hours of the airport have greatly reduced. The number of operating floor supervisors and police officials has doubled and this adds to the efficiency of the airport’s restricted hours of operation. Most importantly, passengers have been cooperating well and arriving five hours before their scheduled flight departure which gives them sufficient time to check in, pass through immigration and arrive at the boarding gate in time, even if there are any congestion delays during the process.
Once the strengthening of the existing pavement is successfully completed, the runways would regain the necessary strength and would increase their lifespan for another 20 years. During this three month period, staff would work on 200 meters of runway every day when the airport is closed and sufficient time would be given for that stretch to harden before the airport opens and the runway is used.
Another aspect that airport authorities are looking to improve on the airfield is the ground lighting. The existing halogen cable system will be replaced with 2500 LED lights, making it easier for pilots, and also significantly reducing the amount of energy consumption.
For further efficiency of operations at the airport, all business jets, domestic operations and military operations have been diverted to the Ratmalana domestic airport and training flights have been completely put on hold for the time being. Transit passengers at the airport are segregated upon arrival at the airport and are allowed to stay for a maximum of 12 hours at the transit lounge. The number of lounge chairs available was to be increased by 1000.
Blue Lanka Tours is proud to say that maximum efforts are being taken by all authorities to make sure this airport development phase passes out smoothly and the runways are improved successfully for the safety of everyone travelling in and out of Sri Lanka.