A $210 million air facility, Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport in Hambantota located near Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo is dubbed as world’s emptiest airport and India is keen on operating the loss-making airport as a joint venture.
The Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport, or simply Mattala Airport, located in Hambantota – 241 kilometres in the south-east of Sri Lanka‘s capital city Colombo is known as world’s emptiest airport due to lack of flights. The only international flight operating from the Mattala Airport was also halted in May this year, following recurrent losses and flight safety problems – making it a loss-drown air facililty worth $210 million. Now known as world’s empties airport was constructed with support from Chinese funds and named after former President Mahinda Rajapaksa in March 2013.
Located in the remote underdeveloped areas of Sri Lanka, the airport failed to attract international flights and tourists ever since – making it the world’s emptiest airport with almost no passengers or flights. Till date, a total of 3,000 flights have touched down the Mattala airport and it has served only 21,000 passengers – averaging just seven passengers per plane. Interestingly, an Indian delegation visited Sri Lanka and is keen to operate the loss-driven Mattala Airport in Sri Lanka. The Indian officials are trying to look into the possibility to operate the world’s emptiest airport in Sri Lanka as a joint venture and save from shutting down after a throttle of $112.9 million loss by the end of last year.
India has offered to take over the Mattala airport, just few weeks after Sri Lanka’s Hambantota deep sea port was bought by China for next 99 years; and world’s emptiest airport is located just within a half hour drive from the Hambantota port. India’s offer could possibly be a strategy to counter Chinese footholds expanding in the South Asian regions. For Sri Lanka, India aiding the functioning of Mattala airport can be a major step in reviving the airport – regardless of the hidden diplomatic agendas of India or China.