After 54 years, Sri Lanka’s oldest airport reopens

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Ratmalana International Airport, Sri Lanka’s first and oldest international airport, reopened on Sunday after over five decades! A flight from the Maldives landed in Sri Lanka’s airport for the first time in 54 years, according to aviation officials. According to sources, the 50-seater Maldivian flight will fly three times a week to Colombo, with plans to increase to five times a week in the future.

Ratmalana International Airport is largely a domestic airport that serves Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital. It was Sri Lanka’s first international airport and the country’s only international airport until Bandaranaike International Airport, Katunayake, opened in 1967. Several domestic routes are currently available, and the airport is home to a number of aviation training organisations. Following a recent loosening of laws, the airport is now open to international business jet operations and charter flights. The airport lies 15 kilometres south of the city of Colombo. The expanding Colombo Financial City, High End Tourism, and business travel needs of High Net Worth Individuals have all been acknowledged as strategic importance of Colombo airport, Ratmalana (HNWIs). RMA’s long-term strategy goal is to maximise the use of existing resources to bring the airport to full operational capacity. Corporate Jet Operations, Domestic Aviation Hub, Aviation Training Hub in the Region, FBO & MRO investments, and Regional Airports Operations are the five strategic sectors with particular plans established to attain this goal.

The State Council of Ceylon decided in 1934 to build an airport within easy reach of the capital city of Colombo, and Ratmalana was chosen as the ideal location. The first plane to land at the new airport was a De Havilland Puss Moth flown by Captain Tyndale-Biscoe, the Madras Flying Club’s main flying teacher, on November 27, 1935. It was utilised as a Royal Air Force airstrip during WWII, with No 30 Squadron flying Hawker Hurricanes against Japanese Navy planes from there. QEA flew civilianized Consolidated B-24 Liberator and Avro Lancastrian planes from Perth, Western Australia, on the world’s longest non-stop flying route at the time. After the conflict, the flight continued with an intermediate refuelling stop in the Cocos Islands.

Air Ceylon’s Douglas DC-3 Dakota and Lockheed Constellation planes used to fly out of Ratmalana airport, which was once the country’s primary air terminal. Douglas DC-4 Skymasters flew via the airfield on their way from the Netherlands to the Dutch East Indies in 1947. (Indonesia). BOAC operated Canadair Argonauts (DC4s with Rolls Royce Merlin engines) from Ratmalana to London in the 1950s. BOAC launched its Comet service between Colombo and London on August 11, 1952, three months after the first passenger jet flight. Air Ceylon later operated a Comet service on this route to London from March 1962 to March 1971. For a brief while in the 1950s, the airport was also a Trans World Airlines (TWA) destination. To replace Ratmalana, the government chose to establish the current Bandaranaike International Airport north of the city in 1964. Ratmalana handed over all international services to the new airport after it was built in 1967. Ratmalana was left with the country’s relatively modest domestic air travel market. After 55 years, the airport reopened for international traffic on March 27, 2022.

The airport’s background
The Ratmalana airport in Colombo, Sri Lanka, opened in 1938. There was a time when it was Sri Lanka’s primary international airport. However, the Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake was opened in the late 1960s, and Ratmalana was repurposed as a domestic airport. Bandaranaike International Airport soon became Sri Lanka’s primary airport, serving international aircraft. However, Ratmalana is still Sri Lanka’s oldest airport. Now, Sri Lanka’s Civil Aviation has announced that the night landing restrictions on domestic planes, which have been in effect since the civil war, will be lifted!

Ratmalana International Airport, Sri Lanka’s first and oldest international airport, reopened on Sunday after over five decades! A flight from the Maldives landed in Sri Lanka’s airport for the first time in 54 years, according to aviation officials. According to sources, the 50-seater Maldivian flight will fly three times a week to Colombo, with plans to increase to five times a week in the future. During a ceremony held at the airport on Sunday, Ratmalana welcomed its first group of overseas visitors. Previously, the Maldivian airline only flew to Colombo’s Bandaranaike airport, which is located on the fringes of the country.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka (CAASL), three weekly flights will operate between the Velana International Airport in the Maldives and the Ratmalana Airport in Sri Lanka (on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays). According to Maldivian Airlines officials, almost 9000 Maldivians live near the Ratmalana airport, which will now make travel more convenient for them.

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