Sri Lanka aviation policy mulls further opening

April 24, 2009 (LBO) – A new Sri Lankan aviation policy aims to encourage investment and open the sector up for more carriers, ground handling and caterers as the economy recovers from war and the market grows, officials said.

“If there’s a big growth, with the recovery of the global economy and an end to the war, the government might open up even for a third and fourth carrier,” said an official.

Government forces have almost crushed the Tamil Tiger separatist rebellion after a near three-year military campaign.

The draft aviation policy also suggests encouraging multiple ground handling agents and catering companies at Sri Lanka’s airports.

Presently, ground handling and catering at the sole international airport at Katunayake, north of Colombo, is done by the national carrier, Sri Lankan Airlines.

The national carrier has long had a monopoly on the two businesses, profits from which helped offset losses from airline operations.

But other airport users have complained costs were too high and had lobbied for the businesses to be opened up for competition.

Civil Aviation Authority officials said the new policy might open up ground handling and catering opportunities at other airports in the