The government will enter into a joint venture with the Indian government to turn the debt ridden Mattala Rajapaksa International airport (MRIA) into a profitable venture.State Finance Minister Eran Wickremaratne said the agreement to be signed this year would see the expenditures split into 30% for Sri Lanka while the rest will be borne by the Indian government.
“This agreement would last for a period of 40 years and would be a purely commercial venture,” he said. “Through this joint venture we will be dividing our losses which the exchequer struggles to meet today while also increasing our dividends.” He said a company would be set up following the joint venture and would lay out the business plan for the project. The Minister declined to go into details adding that since this is a purely commercial venture, confidential details pertaining to the business plan could not be divulged.
He said the MRIA airport was built in a location that has no demand for a airport, domestic or international. “When I inquired from the immigration counter, during the first year of operation, they had stamped only one passport,” he said. “The only airline which operated out of the airport also pulled out and SriLankan Airlines hardly routed to that route.”