May 10, 2013 (LBO) – Sri Lanka will tender a concession to operate a duty free shopping complex in the newly opened Mattala airport, aviation minister Priyankara Jayaratne said, in a move that could draw more passengers to the destination. “I have instructed officials to call for tenders to set up the duty free shops as soon as possible,” minister Jayaratne said.
“I agree that lack of duty free shops is a problem for some passengers.”
Passengers from Middle East, who are mostly expat workers returning after months or years are reluctant to come via Mattala Rajapaksa airport because they cannot use their duty free allowance which can be up to 500 dollars, travel industry officials say.
At Katunayake international airport, duty free shops sell anything from a refrigerator to pressure cookers to cigarettes and alcohol.
UAE based Air Arabia, the first foreign airline to operate to the new airport has now suspended flights the airport.
But a government official said it is likely to resume flights by September. Fly Dubai, a UAE based carrier is also expected to fly to Mattala. State-run SriLankan and Mihin fly to Mattala now.
Jayaratne said a six member committee headed by civil aviation ministry’s secretary Ravi