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Jinxed Lanka airport loses last international carrier

Jinxed Lanka airport loses last international carrier

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Colombo, Jun 8 (PTI) The only international airline flying to the Mattala airport in southern Sri Lanka has pulled out, pushing the loss-making facility into further crisis.

A release from Fly Dubai airline said operations were being halted from the airport due to non-commercial viability.

The Mattala airport built with Chinese loans was named after former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, but was later dubbed "the world?s emptiest airport" due to a lack of operating flights.

The airport has not generated enough revenue to pay back the loans.

Environmentalists have also criticised the airport that was built in an elephant and bird habitat.

Migratory birds, which frequent the area, have been involved in collisions with aircraft approaching or departing from the airport.

Rajapaksa?s Chinese-assisted infrastructure projects have raised much criticism. However the current government of his successor Maithripala Sirisena was not able to abandon any of them.

Rajapaksa has hit back at the Sirisena government for "sell outs" of the Chinese projects allegedly through converting high interest loans into equity with Chinese state firms.

The airport was opened in 2012 after the completion of its first phase. The export bank of China had lent Sri Lanka USD 210 million for its construction.

The current government is to enter a joint venture with India to operate Mattala airport from the middle of this year, officials said. PTI CORR KUN KUN