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Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva Announces 32% Surge in Sea Container Shipments and Direct Air Service Agreement with Israel

Minister of Ports, Shipping, and Aviation, Nimal Siripala de Silva, revealed a remarkable 32% surge in sea container shipments. The announcement was made during a press briefing themed “Collective Path to a Stable Country” held at the President’s Media Centre.

In addition to this noteworthy development, Minister de Silva shared details about the signing of a direct air service agreement between Israel and Sri Lanka on the same day (15). The agreement, forged between the Israeli Ministry of Transport and Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Ports, Shipping, and Aviation, aims to establish direct flights between the two countries, with a primary focus on expediting the migration process for Sri Lankan workers abroad.

“The agreement is designed to enhance passenger convenience and streamline overseas employment for our workers, while also catering to the growing interest of Israelis in visiting Sri Lanka,” stated Minister de Silva.

The minister also provided updates on various initiatives, including negotiations with Indigo Airlines for an additional daily flight service to India via Palali Airport. Furthermore, he revealed progress in calling for Expressions of Interest (EOI) for the development of Mattala Airport, with negotiations expected to conclude soon, possibly resulting in an agreement next week. The Mattala Airport project, proposed as a joint Russian and Indian private venture, holds the potential for profitability.

Addressing concerns about traffic congestion at Katunayake Airport, Minister de Silva outlined plans to introduce 31 ticket windows and a new terminal building, with construction set to commence within two weeks.

Moreover, the minister highlighted JICA’s Chairman’s commitment to funding the construction of the second terminal building after discussions with President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

In another significant update, Minister de Silva extended the deadline for expressing interest in the restructuring of SriLankan Airlines to March 15th.

Closing the briefing, Minister de Silva emphasized the substantial growth in shipping container volume, prompting the development of the Eastern Terminal with a USD 580 million investment from the Port Authority. This initiative is expected to boost container exchange and generate significant income for the country.

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