BIA’s Terminal 2 to begin construction on 30 November despite Covid 19

After running into numerous obstacles that delayed the implementation of the project for years, construction of Terminal 2 at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) is finally set to be launched on 30 November this year.

Speaking to The Sunday Morning Business, Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Ltd. (AASL) Chairman Maj. Gen. (Retd.) G.A. Chandrasiri noted that despite any obstacles they may face on the way, construction of the terminal will be launched on the scheduled date.

“We are having discussions back to back and we are getting ready to launch as planned. At the moment, we are doing some preliminary work such as soil testing,” Chandrasiri added.

He added that Terminal 2 will be completed in three years. Meaning by November 2023, the BIA would be able to handle a combined passenger capacity of 15 million.

The Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) is the concessionary loan provider for the new terminal at BIA. The loan agreement of Rs. 56 billion was signed over four years ago on 24 March 2016. The continued involvement of JICA in this project is interesting, as the Sri Lankan Government recently withdrew from the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Project which was to be funded by JICA, leading to damaged relations between Sri Lanka and long-term ally Japan, according to certain observers.

After years of delays driven by tender-related issues, the project was finally set to launch at end-August and was expected to be completed by August 2023 as a measure to mitigate passenger congestion issues.

However, in early August, the construction was postponed to early September due to complications in importing workers from Japan, China, Malaysia, Singapore, and various other countries amidst Covid-19.

Maj. Gen. Chandrasiri confirmed that changes were not made to the original design of Terminal 2 or to the earlier decision to award the tender to Taisei Corporation, a Japanese construction company. AASL signed the contract agreement with Taisei on 12 March.

Accordingly, the new terminal will be built at a cost of $ 800 million and is expected to handle a passenger capacity of nine million as initially planned while the existing terminal handles about six million passengers annually.

The new terminal building would feature the addition of 96 check-in counters, eight baggage claim belts, seven baggage makeup carousels, 16 contact boarding gates with 28 passenger boarding bridges, and six bus gates. The scope also includes a capacity enhancement of the incinerator, water treatment plant, and sewerage treatment plant.

The BIA has been in dire need of another terminal for years now. It had more than 170 aircraft movements per day, including an average of more than 60 movements of heavy aircraft per day in 2018. The existing six million-passenger terminal handled 10 million passengers in 2018, resulting in hours of delays, particularly as passengers were trying to collect their baggage.

According to the annual reports of AASL, the airport experienced heavy congestion in the arrival and departure zones, as well as vehicular traffic, particularly during peak hours; all while passenger arrivals grew 5-6% Year-on-Year (YoY).