1. The second international airport of Sri Lanka was initially planned to build in Weerawila, southern part of Sri Lanka. Then, the plans were fought due to concerns raised on the environmental impact. Finallly, Mattala a small town 15 km north of Hambantota was selected. It was a lesser known area with shrub jungle of many square kilometers. When the engineers approached the area they had to use hand tools to cut open the shrub cover and make a foot path towards the location. They spend their first nights in tree tops to avoid attacks from wild animals.
2. Although Maththala Mahinda Rajapaksa International Airport is commonly identified in media as MRIA, the International Air Transport Association(IATA) airport code is HRI. The International Civil Aviation Organization(ICAO) airport code is VCRI.
3. Super King 20 which features a dual engi,ne a test aircraft of Pakistan civil aviation department had landed on the new runway to test the facility on October 2012.
4. 23 international airlines have voiced interest in initiating flights to MRIA. At the initial stage, Sri Lankan airlines will fly to Beijing, Bangkok, Riyadh and Male. Mihin Lanka to Bodh Gaya. Fly Dubai will fly to Dubai and Air Arabia will fly to Sharjah.
5. The Runway dimensions are 3500m (11,482 feet) length and 60m wide with 7.5m paved shoulders either side and 260m Runway safety area on both runway ends. The runway is declared a code F from the ICAO, which allows Airbus A380-800 aircraft to use it. BIA airstrip does not have such facility.
6. In addition to the main airport facilities, MRIA will have facilities for pilot and technician training, aircraft maintenance and charter/private jet parking. Sri Lankan Cargo will manage MRIA’s 5,000-square meter cargo facility with the capacity of handling 60,000 metric tons. A 10-acre land has been allocated to Air Arabia for the construction of a 400 room hotel while a local company had also been allocated land for a hotel project.
7. The first phase of the new 800-acre airport was constructed by China Harbour Engineering Company at a cost of US$ 209 million (Rs 26.7 billion). It is built to handle 1 Million passengers per annum, 45,000 metric tons of cargo per annum, 30,000 aircraft movement per annum and 10 parking bays for aircrafts, two aero bridges in an 800 hectare of land.
8. The second stage of the project expansion work at the airport is to be completed by 2015. This includes expansion of the airport’s terminal building, aircraft parking apron and public utilities, full-length parallel taxi way, a flying school, an airport hotel and recreational facilities. With that it is expected to handle 5 Million passengers per annum, 150,000 Mt of cargo per annum, 45,000 aircraft movement per annum, 20 parking bays for aircrafts and 15 aero bridges in a 1200 ha of land.
9. MRIA will be developed as a primary destination for foreign employment departures, reducing the overhead on BIA. Out of 262,960 total departures for foreign employment in the year 2011, 28% of the departures (73,652) are of citizens of Hambanthota, Monaragala, Ampara, Batticaloa, Mathara, Galle, Rathnapura and Nuwara Eliya. Out of them, about 93% (total of 68,385) have departured to Middle East countries.
10. MRIA is built with few important goals in mind. Key is to play a supportive role in the development activity in the southern part of Sri Lanka and capture market share of the regional air traffic growth. Second, to promote air-sea transshipment hub operation in conjunction with the Hambantota Port. Third, to play a key component in the development efforts of the Eastern and Southern coasts. Fourth is to be an alternate airport to Bandaranaike International Airport. Fifth is to facilitate the establishment of a gateway for economic and investment infusion in Sri Lanka.