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* First test flight lands at Sri Lanka's second international airport
Tue, Oct 16, 2012, 11:33 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Oct 16, Colombo: The first test flight on the new air strip at Sri Lanka's second international airport at Mattala in Hambantota district landed safely this afternoon, the Government Information Department said.

A twin-engine Beechcraft Super king test aircraft belongs to Pakistan Civil Aviation Department successfully landed on the new runway in a measure to test air travel control instruments installed at the Mattala Airport.

"It was highly successful as the test aircraft equipped with testing equipment to test all new installation carried out the necessary test of all the equipment and reported they were in order," Prasanna Wickramasuriya, Chairman Airport and Aviation Sri Lanka Ltd has said.

The aircraft piloted by a Pakistani pilot will remain in Sri Lanka for a week to conduct further tests, the Government Information Department said.

The construction work of the Mattala International Airport would be completed at the end of this year and its commercial operation will be launched early January 2013, Wickramasuriya has said.

Sri Lanka hopes to start the commercial operation of the second international Airport early next year.

A Chinese firm with financing from China is building Sri Lanka's second airport while Pakistani Civil Aviation Authority conducts the testing of the equipment.

Minister of Civil Aviation Priyankara Jayaratne has earlier said that six leading airline companies have agreed to maintain services with the Mattala Airport and such companies will be exempted from charges for a period of one year.

The airport is being built on a 2,000 hectare land according to recommendations of the International Civil Aviation Organization. A 1,000-square meter cargo facility will have the capacity of handling 45,000 metric tons of cargo per year.

According to the government, when completed, the new airport, alternative to the Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake, will support both international and domestic travel and air-sea cargo transshipment in conjunction with the Hambantota Harbor.

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