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Bandaranaike International Airport


Bandaranaike International Airport

Bandaranaike International Airport
බණ්ඩාරනායක ජාත්‍යන්තර ගුවන්තොටුපළ
பண்டாரநாயக்க பன்னாட்டு விமான நிலையம்


CMB is located in Sri Lanka
Location of airport in Sri Lanka
Airport type Public / Military
Owner Sri Lankan Government
Operator Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Ltd
Serves Colombo
Location Katunayake
 Sri Lanka
Hub for



Elevation AMSL 26 ft / 8 m
Direction Length Surface
ft m
04/22 10,991 3,350 Asphalt
TBA 13,125 4,000 TBA
Statistics (2014)
Aircraft movements 55,228
Passenger movements 7,819,847
Air freight movements in metric tons 192,440
No. of Employees 3,445

Bandaranaike International Airport (also known as Colombo International Airport and Katunayake International Airport) (ICAO: VCBI) is the main international airport serving Sri Lanka, and a hub for SriLankan Airlines. It is named after former Prime Minister SWRD Bandaranaike and is one of the busiest hub airports in South Asia.

Bandaranaike International Airport is located in a suburb of Negombo, 22 miles (35 km) north of Colombo. It is administered by Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Ltd. It is the hub of SriLankan Airlines, the national carrier of Sri Lanka, and Mihin Lanka, the budget airline of Sri Lanka.


  • History 1
  • Expansion and Developments 2
    • Project phases and construction 2.1
    • Runway and expansion 2.2
  • Aprons 3
  • Terminals 4
  • Airlines and destinations 5
    • Passenger 5.1
    • Cargo 5.2
  • Ground transportation 6
    • Bus 6.1
    • Car 6.2
    • Rail 6.3
    • Sea 6.4
  • SLAF Katunayake 7
    • Lodger squadrons 7.1
  • Accidents and incidents 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11


The airport began as a Royal Air Force airfield in 1944 during the Second World War, RAF Station Negombo.

In 1957 it closed as the British left the island, and SWRD Bandaranaike removed all the British Military airfields from Ceylon (Sri Lanka), the airfield was handed over to the Royal Ceylon Air Force (RCyAF) and renamed Katunayake. Part of it still remains an military airfield.

In 1964 Anil Moonesinghe, the Cabinet Minister of Communications, started the building of a new international airport to replace Ratmalana, with Canadian aid. The airport was completed in 1967, and Air Ceylon, the national carrier, began international operations from it using a Hawker Siddeley Trident and a leased British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) VC-10.

It was named after former Prime Minister SWRD Bandaranaike, in 1970. It was renamed Katunayake International Airport in 1977, but was changed back to Bandaranaike International Airport in 1995.

On 7 November 1971 the first Boeing 747 landing took place, the Boeing 747-200B was operated by Condor was carrying German tourists from Frankfurt.

In the early 1990s the position of the airport's runway (04/22) was shifted northward and the old runway was made into a taxiway for departing and arriving aircraft.

Airport expansion projects have recently been undertaken at the airport under the Stage 1, Phase II Expansion Project. A pier with eight aero-bridges opened in November 2005. A new terminal with an additional eight gates are proposed to be built under Stage II of the Phase II Expansion Project. Construction of the new Stage II, Phase II Expansion Project is expected to commence in September 2015 and is expected to be completed by 2017 .[2]

On 7 May 2007 the Sri Lankan Government decided to shift some military aviation operations out of the space adjoining the airport to SLAF Hingurakgoda, thus paving the way for more civilian operations.

As part of the airport development program, a passenger train service was launched between the Airport and Colombo Secretariat Station, in June 2010. They also unveiled plans to extend the Colombo-Katunayake airport express train to Ratmalana International Airport.[2]

The airport is used by Emirates as an alternative emergency airport for its Airbus A380 aircraft.[2][3]

On 9 January 2012, an Airbus A380-800 operated by Emirates flight EK 413 from Sydney landed at Bandaranaike International Airport. This was the first time in history that an Airbus A380 had landed in a Sri Lankan airport. EK 413 had taken-off from Sydney en route to Dubai, but needed a refueling stop. Originally planned to refuel at Singapore, it was decided to land in Colombo instead. The exact cause as to why the A380 needed to refuel is not known.[4]

On 26 July, The Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of Sri Lanka police set up a new security system at the Bandaranaike International Airport at Katunayake to identify criminals. The new system is expected to help identify the most wanted criminals.

Bandaranaike International Airport is equipped with 18 double jetway gates in preparation for airlines introducing the Airbus A380. Emirates airline to fly the A380 to Sri Lanka in 2016 or 2017, deploying the aircraft on its daily Dubai–Colombo service. SriLankan Airlines is the largest airline operating at the airport, with a fleet of 25 Airbus aircraft based at Colombo and providing scheduled services to Europe, Middle East, India, South East Asia and the Far East. Mihin Lanka is a low-cost airline operating at the airport with a fleet of 3 Airbus aircraft based at Colombo and providing scheduled services to Middle East, India, South East Asia and the Far East.

Expansion and Developments

The airport is undergoing resurfacing of its runway. Future projects may include a second runway to support the Airbus A380, a further eight passenger gates, a domestic terminal, a five-storey car-park, and a five-star hotel neighbouring the airport. Construction of the new approach channels to the airport will begin in September 2015, and expected to be completed by 2017 .[5]

A new split-level passenger terminal building, which separates arrivals and departures vertically, a new pier with eight boarding gates, and 14 passenger boarding bridges, with a dedicated gate comprising two passenger boarding bridges for the new Airbus A380, will be included in the proposed new complex. There would also be a remote apron and an additional nine parking stands to ease air traffic movement. There would be a tax-free apparel shopping mall at the Katunayake BOI Zone to attract more business visitors to Sri Lanka. The mall is to be adjacent to the arrival terminal and connected by a sky bridge.

The second stage will involve the acquisition of 600 hectares of public land, the construction of a runway capable of accommodating new-generation airplanes, an aircraft repair and maintenance center, an arrival and a departure terminal, a shopping arcade, a cargo complex connected to the airport by rail and a multistory car park. Under the Development Project Phase II, Stage 2, a second passenger terminal and a required utility for second terminal will be constructed. Work will also be carried out to expand the terminal, aircraft parking apron, and public utilities. The existing airport terminal will be converted to a domestic and regional terminal, when the new complex is ready.

A two tier passenger terminal with arrivals and departures physically separated as found in most modern airports will also be constructed. A rapid exit to the Colombo - Katunayake Highway will be provided directly from the terminal. Stage 2 itself is to be implemented in two stages and the first stage is scheduled to be completed by early 2017.

Project phases and construction

The second phase of the expansion project is being carried out with Japanese assistance and is expected to be completed by 2017.

  • November 2007 to August 2014 - Development stage of Phase II
  • The new design, submitted in July 2014, provided a green terminal, utilizing the sun with more eco-friendly concepts incorporated
  • On 7 Sep 2014, the Japanese premier launched stage 2 of the second phase of the BIA development project on his arrival at the airport, which is being funded by the Japanese Government.
  • 2015–2017 - The construction for the new terminal will commence in September 2015 and will be completed in 2017.

Runway and expansion

The Bandaranaike International Airport has a single runway (04/22), with an asphalt surface. The take-off and landing distances are 3,441 m and 3,350 m respectively. In addition, the government has decided to invest on a second runway at the airport, enabling the A380 to land in Colombo. There is also a plan to build another taxiway to handle the A380 in the future.

  • Runway overlay - TBA
  • Construction of the second runway - TBA
  • New taxiway construction - TBA


  • Apron Alpha: It is the oldest existing apron at the airport. It has 9 parking bays including 5 remote parking bays and 4 boarding bridge equipped bays. It can handle 4 Boeing 747 aircraft and 5 Airbus A330-200 aircraft at once.
  • Apron Charlie: It has 8 parking bays, all of them are currently remote bays. It can handle any 8 wide-body such as an Airbus A330, Airbus A340, Boeing 777 or Boeing 747 at once. The remote bays will be converted into 8 Airbus A380 capable boarding bridges under the Stage II development project. It is the only apron that is currently capable handling the Airbus A380-800. It has been used by Emirates Airbus A380s thrice.
  • Apron Echo: It is currently under construction, it will have 17 parking bays.


Bandaranaike International Airport Floor
Buddha Statue of Bandaranaike Airport

Bandaranaike International Airport (airport code CMB) at Katunayake, Sri Lanka, is 30 kilometers north of the island nation's capital of Colombo. Thirty airlines currently serve the airport's over 7 million annual passengers. Taxis, buses and rental cars are available for transportation. The airport has three passenger terminals. Terminal 1 is the current international terminal, built in 1967, Terminal 2 is the new international terminal, which is expected to be completed in 2017, and Terminal 3, is the new domestic terminal, which opened in November 2012. The airport's new Silk Route lounge recently opened, expediting the customs process for Commercially Important Passengers.

  • Terminal 1 opened in 1967 and is the oldest, but biggest terminal in the airport. It has 12 gates. It has arrival and departure areas that are separated horizontally. All international flights currently use this terminal, until Terminal 2 opens in 2017. The terminal consists of a main terminal building directly connected to one concourse which houses all the gates. In effect, once through security, passengers go through a small, and rather decrepit shopping area, to one long arm-shaped concourse, with gates 6-14 housed there. On the upper level of this concourse, there are two lounges. In the main body of the terminal is SriLankan Airlines' "Serendib Lounge", and the Palm Spirit lounge. This area has duty-free shops, a tea shop, a small Cafeteria, a smoking lounge, and day-rooms & showers. Beware the Colombo airport can be surprisingly busy, and although there are some seating areas situated alongside its length, they are quite inadequate at times of congestion.
  • Terminal 2 is planned to open in 2017, a section of the terminal is to be opened for the passengers by the end of 2016. It would be the newest and most modern terminal at the airport. It is planned to have 8 gates, with arrival and departure areas separated vertically. A new terminal with an additional eight gates are proposed to be built under Stage II of the Phase II Expansion Project. Construction of the new Stage II, Phase II Expansion Project was commenced in 7 September 2014 and is expected to be completed in 2016. A new pier with eight boarding gates and 14 passenger boarding bridges, with a dedicated gate comprising two passenger boarding bridges for the operations of the Airbus A380, will be included in the proposed new development.
  • Terminal 3 opened in November 2012 and handles all domestic flights. It has arrival and departure areas that are separated horizontally.
  • The Cargo Terminal opened in October 2009 and handles all cargo flights. It has arrival and departure separated horizontally and is the first terminal that you see when you get onto airport road.

Airlines and destinations


Aircraft in ramp area of Bandaranaike International Airport, after the renovations.
A Sri Lankan Airlines Airbus A320-200 (4R-ABB) at the ramp area before the renovations.
A Sri Lankan Airlines Airbus A340-300 on the tarmac at Bandaranaike International Airport, Colombo.
An Airbus A320-200 (4R-MRB) operated by Mihin Lanka being serviced by a boarding bridge.
Airlines Destinations Terminal
Air Arabia Sharjah 1
AirAsia Kuala Lumpur 1
Air China Beijing-Capital,[6] Chengdu 1
Air India Chennai, Delhi 1
Austrian Airlines Seasonal: Vienna[7] 1
Cathay Pacific Hong Kong 1
China Eastern Airlines Kunming, Malé, Shanghai-Pudong 1
Emirates Dubai-International, Malé, Singapore 1
Enter Air^ Seasonal charter: Warsaw-Chopin 1
Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi 1
Flydubai Dubai-International, Malé[8] 1
Jet Airways Mumbai 1
Korean Air Malé, Seoul-Incheon 1
Kuwait Airways Kuwait 1
LOT Polish Airlines Seasonal charter: Warsaw-Chopin 1
Mahan Air Seasonal charter: Tehran-Imam Khomeini[9] 1
Malaysia Airlines Kuala Lumpur 1
Millennium Airlines Charter: Anuradhapura, Jaffna, Kalutara, Koggala, Minneriya, Sigiriya, Trincomalee 3
Oman Air Muscat 1
Qatar Airways Doha 1
Rotana Jet Abu Dhabi 1
Saudia Jeddah, Riyadh 1
Singapore Airlines Singapore 1
Spicejet Chennai, Madurai 1
SriLankan Airlines Abu Dhabi, Bangalore, Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Beijing-Capital, Chennai, Dammam, Delhi, Doha, Dubai-International, Frankfurt, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Jeddah, Karachi, Kochi, Kuala Lumpur, Kunming, Kuwait, London-Heathrow, Malé, Mumbai, Muscat, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Riyadh, Rome-Fiumicino, Shanghai-Pudong, Singapore, Thiruvananthapuram, Tiruchirappalli, Tokyo-Narita,
Seasonal: Chengdu, Chongqing
SriLankan Airlines
operated by Mihin Lanka
Bahrain, Dhaka, Jakarta-Soekarno–Hatta, Kolkata, Lahore, Madurai, Medan, Mahé, Malé (resumes 15 November 2015), Chennai, Muscat, Sharjah
Seasonal: Gaya, Varanasi
SriLankan Airlines
operated by Cinnamon Air
Batticaloa, Bentota, Colombo City (Diyawanna Oya), Dickwella, Kandy, Koggala, Sigiriya, Trincomalee
Charter: Arugam Bay, Hambantota, Jaffna, Kalpitiya, Nuwara Eliya, Vavuniya
Thai Airways Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi 1
Turkish Airlines^ Istanbul-Atatürk 1

Note 1: ^ Although some of these flights make an intermediate stop en route to their listed destination, they do not have rights to carry traffic solely between Colombo and the intermediate city.


Airlines Destinations Terminal
Cathay Pacific Cargo Chennai, Hong Kong Cargo
FitsAir Gan, Malé Cargo
Qatar Airways Cargo Doha, Karachi, Lahore, Thiruvananthapuram Cargo
SriLankan Cargo Bangalore, Bangkok, Chennai, Kochi, Mumbai Cargo

Ground transportation


A luxury bus operates every 15 minutes from the terminal to Colombo via  E03  Colombo – Katunayake Expressway, with a travel time of around 30 minutes.


 E03  Colombo – Katunayake Expressway is a new high-speed road linking the airport to Colombo, with a travel time of around 20 minutes. The airport taxi service operates a counter in the arrival Lobby with a fleet over 600 vehicles.


A high-speed rail system is proposed to connect the airport to the capital Colombo by an electrified high-speed rail link to Colombo Fort where it will link to the proposed Colombo Monorail.


Sea plane in Seeduwa Dadugam Oya near Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake and using DHC-6-100 for traveling inside the country in Sri Lanka. Cinnamon Air operates scheduled flights daily.

SLAF Katunayake

SLAF Katunayake
Katunayake, Western Province
Type Cantonment
Site information
Controlled by Sri Lanka Air Force
Site history
Built 1944
In use 1956 – present

In 1956 with the departure of the RAF from RAF Negombo, the Royal Ceylon Air Force took over and renamed the station RCyAF Katunayake. With the construction of the Bandaranaike International Airport, major portion of the air base was taken over. However the Sri Lanka Air Force remained and expanded its air base adjoining the International Airport. At present it is the largest SLAF station in the country and is the airfield for several flying squadrons as well as ground units. The SL Air Force Hospital is also based at SLAF Katunayake.

In March 2001, on the 50th anniversary of the Sri Lanka Air Force, the airfield was presented with the President's Colours.

Lodger squadrons

Accidents and incidents

  • On 4 December 1974, Martinair Flight 138, a Douglas DC-8 flew into the side of a mountain while on landing approach to Bandaranaike. The pilots had mistakenly assumed that a power station near a mountainous area, as an airport. All 191 passengers and crew on board were killed.[10]
  • On 15 November 1978, Icelandic Airlines Flight LL 001, a Douglas DC-8 on a charter flight, crashed into a coconut plantation while on approach to Katunayake, Sri Lanka for a refueling stop. 184 out of 264 people on board were killed.
  • 24 March 2000 – An Antonov 12BK operated by cargo carrier Sky Cabs crashed due to lack of fuel. It crashed into two houses killing four people on the ground and six of the eight crew on board.[11]
  • 24 July 2001 – Bandaranaike Airport attack. 14 members of the LTTE Black Tiger suicide squad infiltrated Katunayake air base, destroying eight military aircraft on the tarmac. They then moved to the civilian airport, destroying two Airbus aircraft and damaging three others. Seven government personnel were killed.[11]
  • 4 February 2004 – An Ilyushin 18D cargo plane operated by Phoenix Aviation and charted to Sri Lankan cargo company Expo Aviation was landing in Colombo on a flight from Dubai. However, the copilot set the altimeter incorrectly and the landing gear contacted the surface of the sea, 10.7 km (6.6 mi) short of the runway. A belly landing was performed 50 m (160 ft) to the right of the runway.[11]
  • 8 September 2005 – While a Saudia Boeing 747 taxied for takeoff on an international flight from Colombo to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, air traffic controllers received an anonymous telephone call concerning a possible bomb on the aircraft. The crew was informed about this call and elected to perform an emergency evacuation. As a result of the evacuation, there were 62 injuries among the 420 passengers and 22 crew members. One of the passengers died as a result of injuries received during the evacuation, and 17 passengers were hospitalized. No explosive devices were found after a search of the aircraft.[12]
  • 25 March 2007 – At 00:45 the Tamil Tigers bombed the Sri Lanka Air Force base adjoining the international airport. Three Air Force personnel were killed and 16 injured when light aircraft dropped two bombs, although no aircraft were damaged. Passengers already on aircraft were disembarked and led to a shelter, while others trying to reach the airport were turned away and approach roads closed. The airport was temporarily shut down following the incident, but normal flights resumed at 03:30.[13]
  • On 6 January 2008, Mihin Lanka flight MJ401 from Colombo to Dubai was forced to issue a Mayday call and perform an emergency landing at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai after one engine developed a severe oil leak and stopped working. Passengers were informed that the incident was due to the plane leaving Bandaranaike International Airport, Colombo without a vital component in one engine. There were no casualties.[14]
  • On 9 April 2012, Mihin Lanka flight MJ603 from Colombo to Jakarta, called an emergency landing back to Bandaranaike International Airport, Katunayake after about 1 hour from take off, due to a suspected fire in the cargo hold. According to the engineers a fire had not erupted within the plane but was a technical fault. No casualties reported.[15]

See also


  1. ^ "Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka: Annual Report 2014 (Provisional)" (PDF). 
  2. ^ a b c "Bandaranaike International Airport, Katunayake, Sri Lanka". airport-Technology. Retrieved 4 February 2011. 
  3. ^ Sirimane, Shirajiv (14 February 2010). "Airbus A380 to touch down at BIA". Sunday Observer. Retrieved 10 January 2012. 
  4. ^ Sandaruwan, Miyuru. "Airbus A380 Touches Down in Sri Lanka for the first time". Airline Industry Review. Retrieved 10 January 2012. 
  5. ^ Ministry of Ports and Aviation Medium Term. Infrastructure Development Programme Microsoft PowerPoint 10.5 MB 13 January 2008
  6. ^ "Air China to Start Beijing - Colombo Flight from late-Oct 2015". 7 July 2015. Retrieved 7 July 2015. 
  7. ^ "Austrian Resumes Sri Lanka Service from late-Oct 2015". 31 March 2015. Retrieved 31 March 2015. 
  8. ^ "flydubai Adds Male - Colombo Sector from Sep 2015". 7 July 2015. Retrieved 7 July 2015. 
  9. ^ "Mahan Air - International Route Network". Retrieved 1 June 2015. 
  10. ^ "Aviation-Safety PH-MBH accident description page". 4 December 1974. Retrieved 19 October 2011. 
  11. ^ a b c d Accident history for CMB at Aviation Safety Network
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Situation at Katunayake brought totally under control [5th Lead]". Retrieved 19 October 2011. 
  14. ^ Leon Berenger (13 January 2008). "Mihin Lanka's near disaster in the air". Sunday Times Online. Retrieved 9 November 2010. 
  15. ^ "UPDATE: Mihin Lanka flight makes emergency landing over suspected fire". 9 April 2012. Retrieved 24 February 2013. 

External links

Media related to at Wikimedia Commons

  • Airport Authority homepage
  • Sri Lanka Airports Flight Information and Aviation Forum
  • Airport Technical data
  • Tourist Information Kiosks at Airport
  • Sri Lanka Air Force Base Katunayake
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