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Mattala Rajapska International Airport, billed as Sri Lanka's second international gateway, officially opened its doors yesterday and UAE low-cost carriers Air Arabia and flydubai were among the first to arrive.
Both airlines made ceremonial flights yesterday with Air Arabia starting four-times weekly services from May 19 and flydubai launching three-times weekly flights from May 21.
The new airport, also named Hambantota International Airport, aims to increase accessibility and business development of the eastern and southern coasts and take pressure off the much-utilised Colombo hub. flydubai increased its Colombo services to daily last year due to high demand.
Ghaith Al Ghaith, flydubai CEO, said: "We expect it to be a popular destination with tourists from the UAE as well as those from Ukraine, Georgia and other CIS countries."
The development is also a key part of the Sri Lanka Government's tourism-boosting strategy as it seeks to attract 2.5 million visitors a year by 2016. To watch a video of the facility, click here.
New airport aims to boost business development along eastern and southern coasts and take pressure off Colombo
The terminal will be spread across three floors and includes an extended and widened runway
New initiatives are expected to be launched before the end of this year across the country's airports.
The UAE's decision to withdraw its planes raised fears that regional support for the coalition air campaign might be slipping.