Colombo, Jan 10 (NIA) – Sri Lanka, on Tuesday said it had put in place facilities to provide entertainment and free Wi-Fi for waiting passengers at the Bandaranaike International Airport due to the three month partial closure.
Other arrangements that have been introduced are additional seating arrangements, passenger facilitation services in the emigration area and queue management.
The airport is closed from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm daily, starting Jan 6, for a period of three months to carry out resurfacing of the main runway.
The closure had initially caused a massive congestion at the airport which authorities say has now cleared.
Tourism Minister John Amaratunga who had been closely monitoring the situation visited the Airport to monitor the present position and held discussions with airline representatives and Airport and Aviation Services Limited (AASL) officials.
Amaratunga had last month voiced concerns that the partial closure may lead to a drop in tourist arrivals this year and had urged authorities to look into the issue.
The Tourism Ministry said that it was the general consensus among the airline representatives that congestion issues had been completely overcome. They also commended the authorities for their quick action to ease passenger traffic.
“Following reports of congestion on the first day of the partial closure, airport authorities swiftly moved in to action to minimize inconvenience to passengers by introducing a series of measures,” Minister Amaratunga said.
Airport officials have also informed the Minister that the number of counters for check-ins, immigration and also customs had been increased corresponding to the increase in traffic at the Airport.
“Having spoken to all the officials concerned and some of the passengers themselves I found that passenger flow was quite smooth and fast getting back to normal. It must be remembered that with 2 million tourist arrivals the airport is operating at 150% capacity, so until the new terminal is ready it’s going to be a very busy airport,” Amaratunga said.
“During the meeting at the airport we discussed the feasibility of introducing a separate business class check in area to ease main terminal passenger traffic. We are also exploring the possibility of enabling passenger check in at airline offices in Colombo. Logistics and emigration issues need to be worked out in this regard,” Amaratunga added.
He further noted that authorities were also looking at the possibility of reducing the 5 hour check in time which is currently in place for passengers due to the partial closure.
“I’m confident this can be reduced in the near future,” he added.