Jan 11, Colombo: Sri Lanka's Minister of Tourism Development John Amaratunga says the initial congestion caused as a result of the partial closure of the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) beginning January 6 has now been completely eased.
The airport is closed from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm daily for a period of three months to carry out resurfacing of the main runway.
Minister Amaratunga has been closely monitoring the situation and visited the BIA on January 8th. He has attended a special meeting with Emigration and Immigration Controller, Airport and Aviation Services Limited (AASL) senior management, representatives of runway repair contractor, security heads and other top officials.
During the meeting the Minister inquired about operational issues and the measures that had been introduced to ease the congestion, and discussed new measures to ease congestion, the Ministry said in a statement.
During the meeting at the airport, the Minister and the officials discussed the feasibility of introducing a separate business class check-in area to ease main terminal passenger traffic.
"We are also exploring the possibility of enabling passenger check in at airline offices in Colombo. Logistics and emigration issues need to be worked out in this regard," Minister Amaratunga said.
It was the general consensus among the airline representatives that congestion issues have been completely overcome and they in fact commended the authorities for their quick action to ease passenger traffic, according to the Ministry.
"Following reports of congestion on the first day of the partial closure, airport authorities swiftly moved into action to minimize inconvenience to passengers by introducing a series of measures," noted Minister Amaratunga. Minister Amaratunga who visited the airport on an inspection tour observed first-hand the measures in place to ensure the smooth flow of passenger traffic.
The number of counters for check-ins, immigration and Customs has been increased corresponding to the increase in traffic, the statement said.
"It must be remembered that with two million tourist arrivals, the airport is operating at 150 percent capacity. So until the new terminal is ready, it's going to be a very busy airport," noted Amaratunga.
Some of the measures that have been introduced are queue management, entertainment for waiting passengers, additional seating arrangements, passenger facilitation services in the emigration area, and free Wi-Fi for passengers.
"We are also looking at the possibility of reducing the five-hour check-in time. Iím confident this can be reduced in the near future," Tourism Development Minister John Amaratunga said.