BIA reopening pushed to mid-August

* Influx of repatriates cause for delay
* Strain on PCR testing and quarantine facilities

By Skandha Gunasekara and Maheesha Mudugamuwa

Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) would not be reopened on 1 August as previously scheduled due to the influx of repatriates, The Morning learnt.
Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Ltd. (AASL) Chairman Major General (Retd.) G.A. Chandrasiri told The Morning that the airport would most likely be opened in mid-August.

“We are still carrying out the repatriation process and therefore we cannot open the airport for tourists just yet. The process should conclude in about three weeks and we hope to open the airport by the second week of August,” he stated.

He said that if the airport opened earlier, issues like flight congestion that could prevent Lankans from returning would crop up.

“If we open the airport on 1 August, then tourists could book flights here, possibly hindering the repatriation process. Also, PCR testing and quarantine will also get bogged down with additional tourist traffic,” the AASL Chairman said.

Meanwhile, Director General of Health Services (DGHS) Dr. Anil Jasinghe stressed that the threat the country would face with the reopening of airports is that Covid-19 could enter the country once again, adding that therefore it is important to follow Covid-19-related health guidelines to prevent the virus from spreading.

“Our main target is to prevent the transmission of the virus within the community along with the reopening of airports,” he added.