Cochin International Airport Ltd may bag deal to build Sri Lankan (weerawila)airport

Weerawila International airport

The Cochin International Airport Ltd (CIAL) - India's first airport built with private-public sector participation - may bag a deal to build a greenfield airport in Sri Lanka, the company said Thursday in a statement here.

A seven-member CIAL delegation, headed by managing director S. Bharath, is at present in the island nation and has held several rounds of talks with government ministers. It has also met President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Weerawila International airport-site plan

'On Jan 29, we (the delegation) were taken in a special Sri Lankan Air Force plane to the airport site at Weerawila in southern Sri Lanka for a visit and study,' the statement said.

'The proposed airport site is 15 km away from Hambanota in the southern province of Sri Lanka and around 300 km from Colombo. It is also the political constituency of Rajapaksa.'

Rajapaksa - on a visit to the famous Guruvayoor temple in Kerala two years ago - himself mooted the idea of CIAL building the airport in his country.

'The Sri Lankan president and other officials expressed satisfaction at the discussions held. The minister for ports and aviation informed us that they are keen to take the project forward and has requested all possible assistance from CIAL for this purpose.'

'A delegation of senior officials from the Sri Lankan government and the Airport Authority of Sri Lanka would visit CIAL within next few months to study our facilities here and to hold further discussions in the matter,' the company statement said.

Sri lankan girl dies in Saudi Arabian Airline flight

A Sri Lankan maid who left the Saudi Arabia on Saturday (27th)morning on Saudi Arabian Airlines flight SV784 died en route to Colombo.

The woman, Letchumi Devi Rasiah, 30 from thalawakele, was returning home on an exit visa after spending one year and 10 months in the Kingdom. The cabin crew gave medical aid when Letchumi developed chest pain two hours after the aircraft left Riyadh.

An airline official in Colombo said that the entire crew had done its best to save the woman. “She was given oxygen and first aid was administered but to no avail.”

L. Ruhunuge, assistant general manager for foreign relations at the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE), said that he had informed the woman’s parents who would come to claim the body being kept at a morgue in Negombo, some seven kilometers from the Colombo airport.

An autopsy was done yesterday afternoon to establish the exact cause of death.


Weerawila: Clearing ground realities before take-off

Acres of lush paddy fields, the livelihood of an entire farming community, diverse plant and wildlife - will they be under serious threat if plans to set up the country’s second international airport in Weerawila go through? Residents have launched a series of protests against the proposed development, but have had little success in convincing the authorities that it will have many adverse impacts both on the environment and the community.

The Sri Lanka Nature Forum and the Swarna Hansa Foundation earlier this month drew attention to what they saw as the shortcomings of Weerawila as a prospective site for an international airport.

“The Centre for Research and Development compiled an Environmental Impact Assessment Report for the Airport and Aviation Services, but this report was not accepted by the Central Environment Authority,” said Thilak Kariyawasam, Co-ordinator of the SLNF. The report had indicated that Weerawila is the most suitable location for a new airport, and that the effects of building an airport would not have a lasting negative impact on the environment.

Weerawila’s largely farming community is, understandably disturbed by the threat to their livelihood and well-being, which they see as being sacrificed in the face of development. “Most of us came to live in this area because we had an affinity to the land and a passion for farming,” said - Prematilleke, a representative of this community. “The area on which we work yields a harvest of about 3500 kg of rice per acre, and this will all be destroyed if the airport is built.”

Many organizations, environmentalists included, have voiced their concerns on the damage inflicted on the environment if the project goes ahead.

Weerawila is home to some of the island’s richest wetlands, and many endemic and migratory birds. According to environmentalists, the Environmental Impact Assessment report addresses this issue, but has not paid adequate attention to it. The report states that the new airport will not pose a serious threat to the resident and migratory birds that take refuge in Weerawila.

However, The Sunday Times learns that the level of sound from the airport could reach even beyond the borders of the Bundala Wildlife Sanctuary.“According to the report, there are a very few migratory birds in the area. This argument has no basis, for the research into this aspect of the report has been done prior to the migratory season.The revised version also had a survey conducted outside the migrant season,” pointed out Udaya Siriwardene of the Ceylon Bird Club speaking to The Sunday Times.

The new report should have been compiled on the basis of fresh data, but actually the old data had only been slightly revised in the new draft, he said. The SLNF and the Swarna Hansa Foundation also revealed that prior to any incoming flight at the Bandaranaike International Airport, birds in the vicinity are shot down to prevent accidents. The two organizations expressed concern that the same situation could arise in Weerawila.

Bird strikes are a serious problem in airports, with some 35% of aircraft accidents occurring due to them. The report says that the risk of bird strikes in Weerawila is low. This conclusion is reached by comparing Weerawila with the Katunayake Airport, where there is an astonishingly small number of birds due to the frequent bird killings.

One of the many birds found in Bundala

According to statistics compiled by the IUCN (World Conservation Union), a total of 759 species of plants and wildlife, some endemic, are found in Weerawila. The environmental impact report glosses over these details, and there are a great number of discrepancies between the statistics presented in the report and actual fact, the SLNF spokesperson added.

The report also stated that Weerawila holds no historic significance, but research done by the Archaeological Department of the University of Kelaniya, indicates that the area is of historic importance- excavations have found a number of weapons and implements used by people of the prehistoric era.

“As of now, construction of the airport has not begun, as the project does not have the approval of the CEA . The foundation stone was laid by the President in 2006, and a police post currently stands guard at this place. An attempt was made to commence construction, but the Weerawila community strongly opposed this, staging protests and demonstrations at the site,” Mr. Kariyawasam said. Environmentalists are hoping that their voices and those of the villagers will be heard before any further development take place.

Source: sunday times


Sri Lanka invites Cochin airport builders for new airport

Cochin international airport

Sri Lanka wants builders of Cochin International Airport to construct an airport in Sri lanka. Talks on the proposal will begin in Colombo Jan 28.

The Cochin airport is India's first airport built under public-private partnership. Kerala government and several NRIs hold stakes in the Cochin International Airport Ltd (CIAL), which built the airport and still operates it.

A seven-member CIAL delegation led by its managing director S. Bharath will hold talks with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and other Lankan leaders on the proposal.

'The invitation for this came from Rajapaksa and we have taken this opportunity with a lot of excitement,' Bharath told IANS. The talks will be spread over six days from Jan 28, he said.

Bharath said CIAL is ready to provide a full turnkey solution for the proposed airport in Sri Lanka.

'If what they want is just the building of the airport, we are prepared for that and if they want us to take care of the operations part also, we are ready for that too. We are ready for what they want,' he said.

It was almost two years ago that Rajapaksa mooted the idea of CIAL building an airport in his country when he flew to Kochi en route to Shri Krishna Temple at Guruvayoor.

Since then CIAL and Sri Lankan government have exchanged letters on the issue, resulting in a formal invitation from the Sri Lankan president for talks, Bharath said.

CIAL has been making profits since its inception in 1999 and is all set for major expansion with 18 different projects, that include a Rs.6.4-billion ($162 million) IT park, an aviation academy, a maintenance and hangar unit, hotels and a golf course. These are to come up on 500 acres in its possession.

Kerala government holds 35.56 percent in CIAL, the company's directors 37 percent, and public sector banks and public sector organisations like Air India 10.61 percent, while NRIs and general public have 14.63 percent. Federal Bank and other private commercial banks have a 2 percent stake in the company.


Bombthreat - AirEuropa flight recaled to airport

AirEuropa flight is recalled to check it again because of a bomb threat.Security searching is still going on. AirEuropa is not a regular flight and it's coming once in two weeks. Its travelling from Colombo- Frankfurt.


Mihin Lanka may take over Indian routes from SriLankan Airlines:'Sajeen was Gunawardena

Today Indian site called TtravelBizMonitor.com reports that Mihin lanka is going to take srilankan airline's Indian sub Continent routes.Full story follows ....

And Mihin Lanka going to resume there servises to india from 18th january 2007.It's not clear why they stop Indian services until now.

Full story in Travel Biz Monitor

30Years of catering monopoly ends

A second catering firm has set up shop in Sri Lanka's international airport in Katunayake, breaking a 30 year monopoly held by Sri Lankan Airlines.For the full details pl. click the link bellow.

LBO article

Air force officers robbed foreigner

Aviation security staff and Air force

On 12th January 2008 one foreigner came to the airport to go to his homeland(Germany) after a couple of weeks visit in sri lanka. He has only got 500 euros in his pocket. Moment before he was come threw the walk threw metal detector, he put his wallet in to his bag for the x'ray screening.

After that Air force officer ordered to open the bag and checked. While foreigner was collecting his other bags air force officer took 100 euro note of the foreigners wallet without a knowledge of the foreigner and gave it to a another officer. 2nd mention officer gave that to third officer well known as micro ushi kumara.

This whole story was filmed and watched by vigilant aviation security officer who worked as CCTV operator and he informed it to his Superior for further investigation.

Aviation security personal told "We heard,We saw, lot of bad things like this in the past done by some air force officers,But no one got punished or not taken a single action. I am sure this time also will be same"

This blogger got a chance to speake with the above mention foreigner. He said" I was shocked,Why? because this was d0ne by a government air force officer, this is not a mater of 100 euros, this is a matter of individual security of passengers who visit Colombo air port."

He further says " People says Colombo is a dangerous place to visit,now i have a proof for that, not because of terrorist, because of sri lanka air force"

"As I believe these passenger screening should done by aviation security personals because they are well trained and some trained in foreign countries only for passenger and baggage screening. Is air force train for this? All international airports have their own Aviation security division and all security duties done by aviation security personals except one country.It's Uganda."Well known Air line manager told to us.

He further says" These type of complains about air force is now common and now it's getting worse. In one meeting with Airport and Aviation minister we requested to remove air force in terminal who done work which should be done by aviation security"

Taking whole security situation in airport as one incident this bloggers believe well trained (for passenger and baggage screening ) aviation security is much much better than air fore for the airport terminal duties and security. But we are not telling Aviation security is perfect. they are good at it. Let them do it.


"Emirates" expect "srilankan" to go down?

Shocking articale was published on emirates business 24/7.Here is the full article.

The revenues of Dubai-based airline Emirates will not take a beating after it ends its 10-year management contract with SriLankan, a senior executive said.

Emirates ended its contract with SriLankan on January 6, but retained its 43.6 per cent stake in the South Asian carrier. Emirates’ President Tim Clark said the airline is open to selling the stake for an estimated $150 million (Dh550.5m).

“Our exit from SriLankan will not dent our revenues. Emirates never got any huge returns from the Sri Lankan carrier anyway. In fact, we were putting in a lot of systems, technologies and best practices in place for SriLankan on a cost basis,” Clark told Emirates Business by telephone.

The two carriers going separate ways is likely to be a bigger blow for SriLankan.

“I think we might see Emirates increase service on its planes to take up the traffic as SriLankan winds down… as it will. The Colombo-based carrier’s revenues will drop because people will have less confidence in the airline,” said Addison Schonland, a California-based aviation analyst with Innovation Analysis Group.

“The implications are not good for Sri Lanka. Gone will be the talent and guidance. The airline has been run by foreigners for a long time now, and few will take up the mantle given the nature of the country’s heavy hand.

“This is, in short, bad news for Sri Lanka,” he said.

According to media reports in Sri Lanka, the SriLankan Airlines Group achieved a net profit of LKR862.18m (Dh30m) for the financial year 2006-2007, down 50 per cent from the previous year.

The airline made a profit of LKR568.04m, an increase of LKR91.51m over the previous year’s LKR476.53 million. This was the fifth year in succession that the Group, which consists of SriLankan and its fully owned subsidiary SriLankan Catering, recorded a profit.

There have also been reports in the local media of tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka slowing down because of the growing political unrest in the country.

SriLankan braces for a rough ride

SriLankan experienced another year of difficult trading conditions in 2007, with continuing high fuel prices and a deteriorating security situation in the country.

The planned expansion of the use of Colombo as a hub for both passenger and cargo traffic to and from South Asia, saw revenues grow by nine per cent and 17 per cent respectively in 2007 over the previous year. Such improvements, however, were not reflected in the bottom line due to the escalating cost of aviation fuel and a drop in yields.

The airline’s progress in simplifying the business to reduce cost and improve efficiency has progressed well, with e-tickets making up 40 per cent of issues and all online stations with e-ticket capabilities.

Engineering has undertaken a number of third-party maintenance checks, including Emirates aircraft, and is looking forward to build upon this profitable side. SriLankan Catering tripled capacity with a $30 million flight kitchen. SriLankan faces another difficult year ahead and, unless a solution is found to the security situation, there may not be a significant improvement in visitor arrivals to Sri Lanka, which will impact negatively on yields and airline profitability.


Changi Airport officially welcomes Sri Lanka’s Mihin Lanka airline

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) hosted an official welcoming ceremony for Sri Lanka’s Mihin Lanka airline last week.

As the second international carrier from Sri Lanka to fly to Singapore, the state-owned airline first began operating six weekly flights between Singapore and Colombo on 24 September last year. Mihin Lanka joins three other airlines – including Singapore Airlines, Sri Lankan Airlines and Emirates – on the route, bringing the number of weekly flights to 42.

(from left) Director-General & CEO of CAAS, Mr Lim Kim Choon; CEO of Mihin Lanka, Mr Sajin de Vass Gunawardena; and High Commissioner of Sri Lanka, Singapore, His Excellency Shehan Ratnavale.

The CAAS’ Director-General and CEO, Lim Kim Choon said, “The launch of Mihin Lanka’s services comes at an opportune time as passenger traffic between Singapore and Sri Lanka has grown by 30 percent over the past 4 years to reach 275,000 movements for the first 11 months of 2007. Between January and November 2007, there were over 70,000 visitor arrivals from Sri Lanka, representing a robust 10 percent growth year-on-year.”

Lim believes that visitor arrivals from Sri Lanka to Singapore will grow further in the coming years with the new tourism developments taking place in Singapore. These include the Singapore Flyer, Formula 1 Grand Prix and the Integrated Resorts.


SriLankan plane damaged in Frankfurt

A SriLankan Airlines Airbus A340 was damaged in an accident at Frankfurt airport shortly before it was due to take off, airport police said yesterday.

The incident happened when a towing vehicle started pulling the SriLankan Airlines plane towards its starting position while an aerobridge for passengers was still attached to it.The bridge tore a 20-to-30-centimetre gash in the aircraft’s fuselage over a length of 14 metres, police said. The 290 passengers on board had to leave the aircraft and were re-booked on other flights.

No one was injured in the accident, which occurred on Wednesday evening, a spokesman for the airline said.


Emirates talk about sri lankan deal?

Emirates Airlines has announced that it will not renew its management contract with Sri Lanka's national carrier after March this year.
Emirates owns a 43% stake in Sri Lankan Airlines and runs it under an agreement with the Sri Lankan government.
The pull-out announcement follows a row over ticketing between the chief executive of Sri Lankan Airlines and the Sri Lankan government in December.Relations between the two soured significantly following the incident.


In December Peter Hill was appointed chief executive of Sri Lankan Airlines by Emirates to run to run Sri Lanka's national carrier.Soon after his appointment, he refused a request from the Sri Lankan President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, for 35 tickets on a flight from London to Colombo.

The president, who was in London for a private visit, was rushing home in order to be able to attend a crucial session of Parliament.
But Mr Hill refused the request as the flight was over-booked. Shortly afterwards, Mr Hill's working visa and residence permit were withdrawn by the Sri Lankan authorities.
Talking to the BBC, Mr Hill said the incident "had some bearing" on Emirates' decision not to renew its contract."Basically the flights had been full for several months and we weren't able to accommodate that number of people - we were talking about 35 seats here."And so we asked them if there was a possibility that only the president and his close relatives could travel, and we probably would have been able to accommodate them with three or four seats.

"But obviously we weren't able or prepared to offload 35 previously booked customers, basically taking the whole of our premium cabin and 17 seats in economy, at that short notice.
"That's not the way that commercial airlines run their businesses, and we're a commercial airline."
Mr Hill said soon afterwards his work permit and the residents permit were withdrawn.
The original contract between Emirates and Sri Lankan Airlines had been in operation for 10 years, and would have come up for renewal in April.Mr Hill said Emirates had made a set of proposals for renewing the contract more than 18 months ago, but had heard nothing from the Sri Lankan authorities.While Emirates and Sri Lankan Airlines insist their parting has been amicable, Mr Hill said that it would nevertheless send the wrong signal to international investors."Personally I feel that after 10 years of putting the airline on the right road to success and profitability, it was a disappointing end," he said."But the message it sends out to the international community, I think, is not a good one."For its part Sri Lankan Airlines says it will have to put together a plan to continue running its operations from April, which it says it is capable of doing.


Emirates leave Srilankan

Owners of Emirates airline decided to finish there 10 year contract with srilankan government to manage and operate to srilankan airlines. Resent talks with government is not gone well, they are not agreeing to leave catering and Ground handling from srilankan airlines and Emirates is asking 150million USD for the airline. But the government and the interested parties says this amount is too high.

What ever happened agreement with government is ending in 2008 march 31.