India supported Jaffna International Airport commence its operations
The Jaffna International Airport (JIA) in Sri Lanka received its inaugural flight from Chennai, Tamil Nadu in presence of country’s President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremsinghe. Alliance Air, the subsidiary of Air India sent its inaugural flight from Chennai to newly upgraded Jaffna International Airport at Palaly, (20 km north of Jaffna city of Sri Lanka). It carried Air India CMD Ashwini Lohani and its CEO C.S.Subbiah among other invitees from aviation sector.
This inaugural flight is yet another example of India’s commitment to continue with people-oriented development projects in Sri Lanka.
Currently, there will be 3 flights a week to Chennai but connectivity to Tiruchirapalli and Kochi is also planned in coming months. This will provide a big boost to Jaffna connectivity with Southern India.
Alliance air services from Chennai is the beginning and efforts are being made to start services between Jaffna and Colombo.
The flight is expected to improve people-to-people contact between India and Sri Lanka as well as boost tourism and trade between the two neighbours.
About Jaffna International Airport
The airport is built with Indian assistance and is located in Sri Lanka’s Tamil-majority North. It completion marks an important development for region as well as for whole of Sri Lanka. It is equipped with a 2.3-km runway and is third international airport in Sri Lanka.
The airport has now been developed afresh and the runway length has been extended from 950 metres to 1400 metres to facilitate ATR 72 aircraft that carries 70 passengers. Under Phase II of project the runway length will be further extended up to 2,300 metres for bigger aircraft.
Background: The Jaffna airport was operational during 1960s and 1970s but was closed down following eruption of LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) war or Sri Lankan Civil War. India then extended assistance for development of war-affected Jaffna in northern province.