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India seeks to internationalise Jaffna airport

India’s state run airport development authority intends to develop plans for Jaffna’s Palaly airport to have international connectivity with places in South India, Malaysia and Thailand, the Times of India reports. 

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has entered into an agreement with India’s ministry of external affairs to produce a comprehensive report on the development of the airport, which remains under Sri Lankan military control. 

Speaking to the Times of India, an unnamed official from the state run AAI said,

“AAI has signed an agreement with [Indian] ministry of external affairs for preparation of a detailed project report for the development of Palaly airport in Sri Lanka. Palaly is in Jaffna in the north. India had earlier promised to develop Palaly airport which as been a demand by the northern province for some time."

"The airport will be Sri Lanka’s first in the north, give the northern people direct connectivity with places like South India, Malaysia, and Thailand. India has also offered to develop the Kankesanthurai airport also in the North, as well as the Mattala international airport in south Sri Lanka, abutting the Chinese developed Hambantota port," the official added. 

The agreement for the study was signed by AAI’s executive director Anil Gupta and India’s Ministry of External Affairs joint secretary Sanjay Panda.

The Northern Province has made repeated requests for increased connectivity to South India, whilst India has taken repeated steps to actualise connectivity plans.

As well as internationalising Palaly airport, the Indian government has been waiting on Sri Lanka to commit to plans to build a bridge connection between Mannar and Rameswaram in the south of India. The plans have already seen funding approval from the Asian Development Bank.

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