The two functional airports in Colombo are as follows:
1) Ratmalana Airport
Ratmalana Airport is 15 Kms South of Colombo city and was the first airport in the country. To construct an aerodrome within reach of the capital was essential and hence, the decision was made in the year 1934. In 1935, the first aircraft to land at the airport was flown by Captain Tyndale-Biscoe who was famously known for his post in the Madras flying club. During the Second World War, the airport was converted into an airfield base under the Royal Air Force.
After the end of the World War, Ratmalana airport served as the main terminal. However, in the year 1964, the government felt the need to build another international airport to the North of the city regarding the steadily growing economy and the need to boost the tourism industry. With this, Ratmalana airport became the leading centre for domestic flights.
Moreover, in the year 2012, it was decided to upgrade the airport to international status again, and it was thus reopened to small international commercial flights. The history of this airport is vast and varied. This airport in Colombo offers many services and facilities including the VIP Lounge, VVIP Lounge, CIP Lounge, immigration service and advance systems of refuelling and Baggage and Passenger screening services.
This airport in Colombo has two terminals. Terminal one handles international and domestic corporate Jets while terminal two deals with the global, regional operations. The Ratmalana airport code is RML and has a runaway length of 6,014 feet with an asphalt surface. The current operational flights within the airport include Air Senok, Millennium Airlines, FitsAir and Helitours. The Ratmalana airport represents Sri Lankan history and its aviation foundation.
2) Bandaranaike International Airport
Bandaranaike International Airport, popularly known as Katunayake Airport amongst the locals of the country is the second International Airport within Sri Lanka. Established after the Ratmalana Airport and after its shift from international to domestic only era, Bandaranaike Airport serves as the main international airport of the nation. The airport is located near a suburb of Negombo city and is 32.5 Kms north of the capital city of Colombo.
The Bandaranaike airport too offers a vast history of the Royal Air Force. The airport began as an airfield base and played a dominant role during the Second World War. The airport was renamed to Katunayake and later was named after the Prime Minister S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike, who responsibly handed over the military operations in the hands of the Royal Ceylon Air Force. Thus, Bandaranaike becomes the second international airport in Colombo.
In 2007, the government decided to shift the military operations towards the Hingurakgoda Airport to expand the civil services at the Bandaranaike Airport. Sri Lankan Airlines is one of its largest operating airlines here.
The airport has three passenger terminals and one cargo. Terminal one is the primary operating terminal with 12 gates and deals with international flights while terminal two is under construction and will be inaugurated in 2019. This terminal will supposedly have eight gates and the arrival and departures areas divided vertically.
Terminal three was initiated in the year 2012 and handled the authority of all the domestic flights while the Cargo terminal holds the supremacy of the Cargo flights. Both the terminals have the arrival and departure areas separated horizontally. The Bandaranaike Airport code is CMB and has a runaway length of about 11,290 feet.
The Bandaranaike International Airport is also a host to many duty-free shops in various categories such as Electronics, Household appliances, food outlets offering imported chocolates, varied food items etc. One can roam around in the travel shops to buy the last minute travel essentials and also grab Sri Lankan products and the famous Ceylon tea from the shops near the transit lobby of the departure terminal. The airport also houses various restaurants and a transit hotel for passengers to dine and relax. The Transit hotel is near the departure transit area. Hence, Bandaranaike airport is believed to be one of the most efficient airports in Colombo.
There are several current operational flights within the airport. Few of the operators include Gulf Air, Kuwait Airways, IndiGO, Korean Airways, Cinnamon Air, Emirates, Air China etc.
Thus, the commercial centre of the city inhabits the primary source of travel within itself. These two airports play an essential part within the country’s revenue and are a prime source of the tourism section as well. The Airports in Colombo hence connects Sri Lanka with the rest of the world!