Hingurakgoda-White Elephant ?

Hingurakgoda-White Elephant ?

Sri Lanka plans to revamp the Hingurakgoda airport to an international airport, Aviation Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said.

Many in the aviation trade have asked with raised eyebrows if minister Sirplala de Silva is joking.,in fact it was Ranil Wicckramasingha who informed parliament regarding the proposal in his police statement .The comprehensive modernization project is estimated to cost a total of 17 billion rupees.

The state owned SrIlankan airlines is making hugh losses and Mathala air port is known as a airport that hardly recivers passangers other than a few Russian tourist.

It was Minister of Ports, Shipping and Aviation Nimal Siripala de Silva who informed Parliament that the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport had incurred a loss of two billion rupees on average between 2017 and 2023.

The minister said at a discussion that the objective is to turn the Hingurakgoda airport into an airport dedicated to civil aviation while not been able to mange any other airports successfully .

Rathmalana air port is mainly used as a air force air port and it’s potential to serve as a city airport is largely untapped.

The Hingurakgoda airport, originally known as Royal Air Force Minneriya, airport goes back to the days of World War II, serving as a base for the British Royal Air Force.


Here are observations made by Path Finder researcher Rasngika Kumarihami


Transformation of Hingurakgoda Airport: The proposal to convert Hingurakgoda Airport from a primarily military facility to a fully-fledged international civilian airport is a significant move that involves substantial investment and has sparked national debate.

Ambitious Upgrades: The plan includes runway extensions, advanced air navigation systems, a new passenger terminal, and a modern Air Traffic Control tower, aiming to meet the growing demand for international civil aviation.

Critics’ Concerns: Critics question the necessity and practicality of such a large investment, especially given Sri Lanka’s existing aviation infrastructure, economic challenges, and the underutilization of facilities like the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport.

Economic Considerations: The allocation of significant funds towards Hingurakgoda Airport’s development raises questions about prioritization amid economic challenges. Critics suggest redirecting resources to more pressing needs, such as tourism infrastructure or enhancing domestic airports.

Domestic Air Network: Expanding the domestic air travel network could stimulate tourism, local economies, and internal connectivity, benefiting both tourists and locals.

Roles of Key Entities: The Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka (CAASL) and the Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF) play critical roles in ensuring the project aligns with national aviation policies and balancing civilian and military interests.

Strategic Considerations: The upgrade involves strategic asset control, potential foreign involvement, and geopolitical implications, requiring careful planning to safeguard national interests and sovereignty.

Lessons from India: Sri Lanka can learn from India’s experience with airport privatization and infrastructure development to ensure sustainable and profitable growth in its aviation sector.

Comprehensive Planning Needed: The decision to upgrade Hingurakgoda Airport requires comprehensive planning to address economic, strategic, and geopolitical concerns while aligning with broader national objectives and foreign policy goals.

Geopolitical Implications: Given the regional interest in Sri Lanka’s aviation infrastructure, the decision should be made while considering the country’s role in the Indian Ocean region and its relationships with global powers.

In summary, the transformation of Hingurakgoda Airport represents a pivotal moment for Sri Lankan aviation, requiring careful consideration of economic, strategic, and geopolitical factors to ensure sustainable development and safeguard national interests.


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