This is a big embarrassment to the airport, the government and officials. Surely the contractors knew how to read a tape measure!!!
The Bandaranaike International Airport was closed for daytime flights from 830am to 430pm for three months from January 6, 2017. The runway re opened as schedule on the 6th April and hailed a total success.
However, It was later revealed that the project was a total waste of time and money. The project was to include the widening the 45-metre main runway to 75 metres and to re-lay the surface to fix the lighting system. The initial estimate for the project stood at LKR 7.2 billion.
The extra wide runway would also allow for larger aircraft such as the Airbus A380 super jumbo to be able to use the airport.
The problem is that the contractors measured the extra 30 metres incorrectly and actually only widened the runway to 60 metres making it short by 15 metres when measured by the IATA officials.
This is a big embarressment to the airport, the government and officials. Surely the contractors knew how to read a tape measure!!!
SriLankan Airlines alone incurred an approximate loss of USD 40 million during the time the runway was shut down for refurbishment. This is excluding other major airlines such as Emirates and Qatar Airways that had to reduce operations and all the airlines that had to reschedule operations which was a major feat in itself.
The total loss to Sri Lankan tourism for this period was estimated to be $80 million, however Sri Lankan Tourist Board denies this figure.
Leader of JVP Anura Kumara Dissanayake, speaking on the issue said:
“We closed the airport for six months from 8 in the morning to 4 in the evening. The loss has been calculated at 7.6 billion. But what has happened after they reconstructed the runway incurring a loss of Rs. 7.6 billion. It has come to a situation where the A380s cannot land there. They had rolled back the previous plan but the cost has increased by USD 30 million. It is clear that the anticipated task has not been achieved”.
Chairman of Sri Lanka Nidahas Sevaka Sangamaya, Janaka Wijepathiratne speaking on the issue said:
“We worked for 16 long sleepless hours in the night shift to facilitate the construction activities of the runway. But after all of this. if the international aviation authorities are not granting permission for bigger flights to land here, we see this as a massive waste of money. We are asking the government to provide a clarification”.
It has now been estimated that an additional cost of $30 million needs to be spent in order to do the job properly. Not one airport official has confirmed as to whether the airport runway needs to closed again for a second time with a huge inconvenience to airlines and tourism as a whole.