Katunayake a town is situated on the west coast of the island of Sri Lanka close to the commercial capital of Colombo. It is the site of Bandaranaike International Airport, the primary international air gateway to Sri Lanka. With the change of government in 1977 and the introduction of the open economy policy a large area was allocated to create a free trade zone.(Currently known as the Export Promotion Zone.)This created a large amount of job opportunities for the local youth and has contributed substantially towards the countries economy.
Domestic aviation in Sri Lanka has suffered a somewhat patchy history, mainly due to the civil conflict, which at its height lead to the banning of all non-military flights. Since the ceasefire in 2002, however, the industry has taken wing once again. Most popular is the flight to Jaffna. Our travel correspondent reports on her experiences flying the carrier ExpoAir on her recent journalistic mission north.
Glancing at a map of Sri Lanka it seems like a small enough island, similar in size to Tasmania in Australia or Ireland. Small enough that travelling around should not take so much time. Those who live here or have travelled in Sri Lanka, know this couldn’t be further from the truth. Jaffna, the northern most point of the island, is 396km from the capital, yet it can take up to 13 hours by road. Not surprisingly, many people choose to make use of the quicker option provided by airlines such as ExpoAir.
Bandaranaike International Airport (IATA: CMB, ICAO: VCBI) is Sri Lanka's only international airport. It is located in Katunayake, 35 km (22 mi) north of Colombo. It is administered by Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Ltd. It is the hub of SriLankan Airlines, the national carrier of Sri Lanka.
The airport began as a Royal Air Force base during the Second World War, RAF Negombo. In 1957, when SWRD Bandaranaike removed all the British Military Bases from Sri Lanka (Ceylon), the base was handed over to the Royal Ceylon Air Force (RCyAF) and renamed Katunayake. Part of it still remains an Air Force base.
In 1964 Anil Moonesinghe, the Minister of Communications, commenced the building of a new international airport to replace Ratmalana, with Canadian aid. The new airport was completed in 1967, and Air Ceylon, the National Carrier, commenced international operations from it using a Hawker Siddeley Trident and a leased BOAC BAC VC-10. The airport was also a Trans World Airlines (TWA) hub for a short time.
It was named Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA), after SWRD Bandaranaike, in 1970. It was renamed Katunayake International Airport in 1977 but was changed back to Bandaranaike International Airport in 1995.
In recent years, various expansion projects have been undertaken at Bandaranaike International Airport. A pier with eight aero-bridges opened in November 2005, the first of its kind in Sri Lanka.
On May 7, 2007 the Sri Lankan Government decided to shift some major military aviation out of the space adjoining the airport to Hingurakgoda, paving the way to more civilian operations. The airport is undergoing resurfacing of its runway.
Alphabetical Listings of Hotels in Katunayake Airport
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