Sri Lanka opens new Chinese-funded international airport
MATTALA (AFP) - Sri Lanka's president opened the country's second international airport on Monday, intended to help spur a new economic hub and act as a gateway to the island's southeast.
The Sharjah-based low-cost carrier Air Arabia on Monday became the first foreign airline to start scheduled services out of Mattala Rajapakse International Airport, about 270 kilometres (168 miles) south of the capital Colombo by road.
Built with funding from China's Export-Import Bank, the new US$206 million (S$325 million) facility in Hambantota district can accommodate the Airbus A380, the biggest airliner in service, and is surrounded by a free-trade zone.
Its business is geared towards transporting migrant workers from Sri Lanka to the Middle East, but national carrier Sri Lankan airlines will bring in tourists interested in the nearby wildlife sanctuaries of Yala, Udawalawe and Bundala.