The Minister of Civil Aviation, Piyankara Jayaratne told parliament that the Mattala International Airport in Hambantota will be declared open on March 18, the Government Information Department reported.
An open skies policy will be adopted by the government allowing international carriers to operate freely at the Mattala Rajapakse International Airport in Hambantota, Southern Province, Aviation Minister Priyankara Jayaratne said.
The 'Sunday Times’ reported that the open skies policy is where free market conditions are created for commercial aviation and provides access to international carriers to operate freely without restrictions.
“This is a move to attract more international traffic and the new policy will be announced next week,” he said adding, that this policy would not apply to the Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake, Colombo.
The minister said that a free market environment for the airline industry would be created through the open skies policy.
Earlier, he said that the government had planned to have an open skies policy only for a limited period but now it had decided to extend it for an unlimited period.
A 50 per cent discount on ground handling charges for five years is among other concessions at Mattala, he said.
He added that after talks being held with various international airlines including Emirates, Qatar Airways, Ethihad, Air Arabia, Sichuan Airlines of China and the Korean Airlines, they had agreed to fly to Mattala while talks were continuing with other airlines.
Jayaratne said for the construction of a 400 room hotel, a 10-acre land has been allocated to Air Arabia while a local company also had been allocated land for a hotel project.
The first phase of the new 800-acre airport constructed by the China Harbour Engineering Company cost $209 million (Rs26.7 billion).
Meanwhile, official commissioning of the Mattala Rajapakse international Airport for domestic and international air transport services have been gazetted, Civil Aviation Director-General HMC Nimalasiri said.