Colombo Airport - Bandaranayike International (BIA), Katunayake near Negombo, Sri Lanka
Colombo's Bandaranaike International Airport, Katunayake, is used for public domestic and international flights, commercial traffic and is Sri Lanka's main military airforce base.
At just 8m above mean sea level (AMSL) Katunayake with a single 3350m tarmac landing strip serving the environs of Colombo; Sri Lanka's capital and the rest of the island.
Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) - IATA: CMB, ICAO: VCBI is Sri Lanka's largest and only international airport. It is located in the Katunayake area, near Negombo around 35km / 22mi north of Colombo, administered by Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Ltd. This is the hub for SriLankan Airlines (also trading as AirLanka) the national carrier of Sri Lanka.
The airport began life as a Royal Air Force base during the Second World War, RAF Negombo later renamed as RAF Katunayake.
In 1957, when Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike (08/01/1899 – 26/09/59 - affectionately refered to as SWRD - the fourth Prime Minister of Ceylon / Sri Lanka between 1956 and 1959) removed all British Military Bases from Ceylon (as it was then), the base was taken over to the Royal Ceylon Air Force (RCyAF) and formally renamed Katunayake.
In 1964 Anil Moonesinghe, the Minister of Communications, started developing a new international airport to replace the old one at Ratmalana, now used for domestic flights and for military purposes.
Bandaranaike International Airport was completed in 1967, and Air Ceylon, the National Carrier, commenced international operations from it using a Hawker Siddeley Trident and a leased BOAC BAC VC-10. The airport was also a Trans World Airlines (TWA) hub for a short time.
The International Airport was named after SWRD Bandaranaike, in 1970. It was renamed Katunayake International Airport in 1977 but was changed back again in 1995.
Various expansion projects have been undertaken at Bandaranaike International Airport over recent times and an eight aero-bridge pier opened in November 2005, the first of its kind in Sri Lanka.
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The conflict between the Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE, commonly known as “the Tamil Tigers”) ended in May 2009. Although the conflict is over, the LTTE are believed to retain some capability to mount terrorist attacks such as grenade or explosive device attacks and shootings. The Government has relaxed the State of Emergency, under which it has extensive anti-terrorism powers but there are still heightened levels of security (e.g. checkpoints, road blocks) throughout the country. You should exercise a high level of vigilance. The risk for the most part is one of being caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. In order to minimise this, you should avoid military, government and paramilitary locations. Always carry formal photographic identification with you. Stop and show your ID when asked to do so. If you are detained, you should ask the authorities to contact the British High Commission.
Fatal attacks linked to the LTTE occurred throughout the country into 2009.
Most attacks have been directed against Government and military targets though
a number have been focussed on civilian targets such as crowded public places,
public transport and market areas. Some of the most significant attacks included
a suicide bomb at a political gathering in March 2009 and an air raid on military
targets in Colombo in February 2009.
JeGraNet.com statement - 15 October 2008 - Quote from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office website: "There is a high threat from terrorism in Sri Lanka. Fatal attacks have become more frequent. They have occurred in Colombo and throughout Sri Lanka, including places frequented by expatriate and foreign travellers. Further attacks may occur at any time. There is an increasing risk of British nationals being caught up in an attack". As independent travellers we left Colombo after just 9 days into our planned 6 month stay as a result of a feeling of insecurity, however we are sure that 'package tour' travellers to tourist resorts will probably enjoy a worry free holiday.