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Mattala attracts local tourists, not flights

( March 9, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The Mattala International Airport has become more of a tourist attraction than a busy airport as a visitor to the area found this week. The lobby area entrance tickets which are priced at Rs. 150 were being sold at the discounted price of Rs. 100 to attract more people to go in and see that section of the building even though the glass frame through which the runway can be seen was covered with white paper.

A large number of locals are flocking to see the airport, but many chose to drive around it and head off to see other places without bothering to buy a ticket to go and see the inside. “One desolate airport it looked like,” the visitor said. Civil Aviation Minister Priyankara Jayaratna who was asked on Thursday in Parliament about plans to shift the colossal loss making Mihin Lanka operations to Mattala had a different view on the airport.

He invited UNP MP Ravi Karunanayaka to go to Mattala with him and see for himself how many aircraft were using Mattala and the large number of transit passengers there. “Air Arabia has stopped operations but will resume soon. Many other airlines are also in discussions to use Mattala,” he said rather optimistically. (ST)

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