MRO unit mulled to be set up at MRIA | Sunday Observer

MRO unit mulled to be set up at MRIA

30 July, 2023

Signalling a major development in the aviation sector in Sri Lanka, the proposal to set up an aircraft and maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) unit at Mattala Rajapaksa International airport (MRIA) has received international interest.

K. D. S. Ruwanchandra

Secretary, Ministry of Aviation and Shipping, K. D. S Ruwanchandra said that four international companies have forwarded proposals to set up an MRO at MRIA.

This is subsequent to an international notice that was published by the Aviation Ministry calling for expressions of interest (EOIs) after receiving Cabinet approval to it.

The setting up of a MRO was in the agenda for almost 12 years with Lufthansa Technik AG in Germany first responding to it. Subsequently a United Arab Emirates (UAE) company too came forward to assist and develop the MRIA but it never took off.

Three years ago a plan was made to lease out MRIA, the second international airport in Sri Lanka, to an Indian airport management company but that too failed.

“We are yet to evaluate the international proposals we received and that will be done soon. Accordingly, the government will select a suitable player from these and proceed,” Secretary Ruwanchandra said.

He said that proposals have also been received to set up a flying school and aerospace engineering schools and also for some other aviation activities too are being persuaded.

With the liberalisation of the aviation fuel sector ending the monopoly of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, international fuel suppliers too are expected to move to MRIA to provide aviation fuel at competitive rates.

MRIA in recent times has attracted more Russian tourists to the country through the charter flight operations of Red Wings Airlines of Russia, which operates four flights a week. This year, with the gradual recovery of the economic situation of the country, there was a satisfactory growth in the number of international tourists arriving through the exotic gateway. MRIA facilitated 11,926 international tourists in February 2023, while Sri Lanka’s tourism industry recorded 107,639 international tourist arrivals in February 2023, representing a growth of 11.5% compared to February 2022.

MRIA, which played a key role during the pandemic initiating crew changes, was opened in March 2013 and celebrated its 10th anniversary recently.