Sri Lanka: Colombo’s runway too short, too narrow

A former director of Sri Lanka’s Civil Aviation Authority has questioned the ability of Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) to support airfreight exports and passenger demand and also has suggested international airlines will not support a second international airport in the country. Speaking at a Sri Lankan Chamber of Construction Industries (CCI) seminar, Dayanthe Athulathmudali, […]


Bandaranaike International Airport BIA runway too narrow


A former director of Sri Lanka’s Civil Aviation Authority has questioned the ability of Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) to support airfreight exports and passenger demand and also has suggested international airlines will not support a second international airport in the country.

Speaking at a Sri Lankan Chamber of Construction Industries (CCI) seminar, Dayanthe Athulathmudali, now director, Safety and Security of Dubai World Central, said small states like Sri Lanka need to understand that airlines operating regular long haul international flights only want to operate to one international airport and not to a second within the same state.

He also said the runway at BIA will need major refurbishment within the next few years and that it can’t support modern aircraft fully loaded with passengers and freight.

The current runway is only 3,350 metres long and 45 metres wide – too short to support the A341-300 takeoff at its maximum takeoff weight of 275 tonnes during the daytime when temperatures exceed 31 degrees Celsius, he said. Th e BIA should ideally have a ICAO standard 60 metre wide runway, Athulathmudali said.

As a result, airline cargo has to be unloaded when the cabin is full with passengers. “Sri Lankan exports destined to London and beyond have to be unloaded and reloaded on AirLanka’s competitors simply because the runway is too short at daytime,” he said.