Sri Lanka airlines to face losses due to runway closure

Colombo: Sri Lanka's national airline will make a loss of around $50 million in revenue when the only runway at the Colombo airport will be shut during much of the day for three months, the media reported on Friday.

The Sri Lankan Airlines, the largest single carrier out of the Bandaranaike International Airport, will see 17 per cent of its seat capacity affected by the eight-hour closure of the runway during the day from January 6 to April 6, Xinhua news agency reported.

The Sri Lankan government last month said the airport will be closed for eight hours a day during which a selected area of the runway would be renovated for four hours and allowed to cool down for another four hours.

The government said a future airport project may include a second runway to support the Airbus A380, a further right passenger gates, a domestic terminal, a five-story car-park, and a five-star hotel neighbouring the airport.

Construction of the new approach channels to the airport will begin in September, and expected to be completed by 2020.

The carrier is currently facing a staggering debt of nearly $4 billion with the government terming it as a "landmine" for the country's economy.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said in April that the government would seek an international partner to invest and manage the airline and the state would bear up part of its debts.

Wickremesinghe, soon after being sworn to power last year in a parliamentary election, ordered a criminal investigation into alleged corruption at the national airline during the previous regime.