Sri Lanka in bid to draw courier airlines to Mattala airport

Mar 13, 2013 (LBO) – Sri Lanka is in talks with international courier airlines including UPS, Fedex and DHL to base operations at a new airport that is opening on March 18, the island’s state-run airport agency chief said. “We are talking to courier airlines, UPS, Fedex, DHL,” Prasanna Wickramasuriya, chairman of Airport and Aviation Services of Sri Lanka Ltd said.

“They are also looking at this airport very closely, because they want to launch into the African continent.”

The Chinese financed 300 million US dollar airport which will also have hangars for aircraft repair and maintenance will be opened next week by Sri Lanka’s president Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Wickramasuriya said there will be opportunities for air sea cargo transshipment as Hambantota seaport was only 17 minutes away by road.

Top courier airlines now have regional hubs in Dubai, but he says in Sri Lanka human resources costs are cheaper as well as having a strategic location.

“There is plenty of land here,” he said.

The airport is being built on 2,000 hectares of land which can be extended by another 1,200 hectares. The airport has already called request for proposals for light industries.

The airport will be able to handle o