r Ministry of Defence - Sri Lanka

AASL Chief rebuffs rumors on plans to shut down airports due to COVID-19

March 16, 2020

•    Tough screening measures to detect suspected or infected coronavirus passengers at airports

•    No chance to ‘cheat’ the original place of living or visiting

The Airport & Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Limited (AASL) has refuted rumors over plans to shut down the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) at Katunayake due to the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), today.

“The international airports except Jaffna will continue to function as normal”, AASL  Chairman Maj. Gen.(Retd) G.A Chandrasiri said.

He said all the airports would continue normal operations and there is no need to panic.  He urged people not to be swayed by certain social media posts that were deliberate attempts to create social anxiety and tension to gain their ulterior motives.

“International flights to and from Jaffna are temporarily halted as a precautionary measure, but none of the scheduled domestic operations are affected,” he told the defence.lk.

Meanwhile, commenting on the preparedness at the international airports in adopting screening, identification and pre-quarantine measures, Maj. Gen. Chandrasiri said that safety gears and equipment including scanners were installed adequately at the BIA.

“Prior to landing, the passengers are been notified to declare their medical status and not to take unnecessary risks endangering others. On arrival passports of passengers are checked thoroughly by the officials to confirm last airport of departure and the countries that they are living or visiting,” he said adding there are no chances for the passengers to hide the original place of living or visiting if they are coming from the COVID-19 hit countries.

Earlier, there was information that some Sri Lankans who were living or visiting in COVID-19 hit countries had taken flights from other countries to avoid the existing quarantine process.  

According to AASL Chairman, passengers are directed towards five help desks which function under the supervision of medical doctors, who will conduct a mandatory medical screening.

“Once the passengers passed the screening, the well-experienced immigration officials will re-check the passports for any discrepancies with the initially declared details”, he added.

Maj.Gen.Chandrasiri said the Individuals who suspected of being infected would be isolated and directed separately to undergo preliminary quarantine measures.

“Following the initial quarantine measures suspected individuals will be escorted to the quarantine facilitates established across the island,” he said adding that all precautionary measures have been taken to screen those passengers who have been suspected or infected with COVID -19 at all airports.