Sri Lanka asks Indian air services to start flights to Mattala Airport
Sri Lanka has requested Indian air services to start flight operations to Mattala, according to a statement from the Port, Shipping and Aviation Ministry.
The aim is to facilitate Indian tourist arrivals as they became the second highest contributor to boost Sri Lanka tourism in the 2022 winter season as the Indian Ocean island is undergoing the worst currency crisis in the history of its soft-pegged central bank.
From November 1-24, Sri Lanka has welcomed 45,560 tourists led by 11,041 Russian holiday makers, followed by 8,075 Indians and 3,569 British.
Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva made this request during his meeting with the Indian Ocean Region Joint Secretary Puneeth Agrawal recently.
“In this discussion, the measures that can be taken to further develop the cooperation in the maritime sector in the Indian Ocean region were discussed.
The Minister pointed out that India and Sri Lanka have already reached an agreement on the preliminary work to start a passenger ferry service.
Accordingly, the Minister requested Mr. Agrawal to start the passenger services very soon and to provide the support of the Government of India for the same.
The Minister said that through the expansion of these passenger ferry services, people of the same class in both countries will be able to travel between the two countries at an affordable cost.
He also pointed out that through the transportation of goods, there will be opportunities to expand trade activities between India and Sri Lanka.
The Minister requested to increase the concessional loan amount given for the development of Kankesanthurai Port, and pointed out that the reason for this was the fluctuation in the price of the goods in the construction sector.
Here, the Indian Ocean Region Secretary said that it is appropriate to start passenger ferry services between Danushkodi and Rameswaram. The minister emphasized that he agrees with the proposal and that the Sri Lanka Railway service can also be connected with the passenger ferry services.
Expressing his happiness that more flights could be operated between Chennai and Jaffna with the start of international flight services at Palali Airport, the minister requested that Indian air services be operated up to Mattala Airport as well.
Agrawal said in this discussion that the expansion of these naval and air services between the two countries is very important and the Indian government will provide full support for that,” the statement said.