Sri Lanka and India are focused on expanding sea and air services

A special discussion took place in the Minister’s Office between Indian High Commissioner for Sri Lanka Gopal Bagle and Minister for Ports, Shipping and Aviation Nimal Siripala de Silva on the development of maritime and air transport services between the two countries. During this discussion, reference was made to measures that should be taken to develop bilateral relations between the two countries.

The Indian High Commissioner pointed out that Indian state-owned airline Alliance Air Company has operated 100 flights between Madras and Palaly airports and that due to the high demand from tourists to travel between these two airports, plans are underway to increase flight operations from Madras to Palaly.

The Minister also asked the Indian High Commissioner to explore the possibility of expanding flights to Ratmalana Airport as well. The High Commissioner promised to respond promptly in consultation with the relevant authorities. He further pointed out that the Sri Lankan government’s request that the Indian government should provide a concessional loan for the runway extension at Palaly Airport is already under consideration. The High Commissioner indicated that a bipartisan-appointed joint committee should discuss the issues and make a decision in line with the 2011 Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries.

Minister of Ports, Shipping and Aviation Nimal Siripala de Silva stressed that Sri Lanka stands ready to accept international standard passenger ships arriving from any port in India and that the process should be expedited as the low-income people of Sri Lankas making a pilgrimage to India will also benefit. The minister pointed out that after the introduction of the passenger ferry service, Sri Lankan pilgrims could have easier travel to the Buddha Gaya and other shrines by merging with Indian Railways.

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