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.

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