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FINANCIAL CHRONICLE™ » DAILY CHRONICLE™ » Sri Lanka move to push cargo at Mattala welcomed by policy advocate

Sri Lanka move to push cargo at Mattala welcomed by policy advocate

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Moves by Sri Lanka's airport agency to woo courier airlines to the island's second international airline was welcomed by a policy specialist who had been advocating such action.

"I am very pleased that these negotiations have commenced," Rohan Samarajiva, head of LirneAsia, a regional policy research body said.

"This is the most logical thing to do with Mattala airport, give the fact that we are in a high growth region and air freight growth will outpace economic growth."

Samarajiva had been at a multi-sector regulator in the US and was also a former telecom regulator in Sri Lanka.

He had also been involved in negotiating aviation de-regulation between India and Sri Lanka which led to Indian private carriers being allowed to fly out the country for the first time starting with Sri Lanka.

In his regular Choices Column column in Lanka Business Online, Samarajiva had explained in detail why making Mattala a freight hub would make better sense than pushing passenger traffic.

"The authorities need to think of a rational economic application now that the airport has been built," Samarajiva wrote.

"An air freight cargo hub seems to make prima facie sense. In terms of aircraft movements, obscure Memphis, Tennessee, and Louisville, Kentucky, are among the busiest in the world, because they serve as hubs for FedEx and UPS respectively.

"While the volumes of air freight carried by these companies as well as others such as DHL and TNT are growing rapidly in South Asia, the region still lacks hubs.

"The closest are situated in the high-cost locations of Bahrain, Dubai and Singapore. It would be quite a coup for the Aviation Ministry to attract the first such hub in South Asia to Mattala."

"While the volumes of air freight carried by these companies as well as others such as DHL and TNT are growing rapidly in South Asia, the region still lacks hubs.

"The closest are situated in the high-cost locations of Bahrain, Dubai and Singapore. It would be quite a coup for the Aviation Ministry to attract the first such hub in South Asia to Mattala."

In an interview earlier this week, chairman of Airport and Aviation Services of Sri Lanka, Prasanna Wickramasuriya said they were trying to woo forwarding operators including UPS, Fedex and DHL.

http://www.lbo.lk/fullstory.php?nid=1976400536

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