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Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA) Facilitates the Largest First-ever Ship Crew Change in Sri Lanka

May 06, 2020

A special charter passenger flight, Boeing 767-300 ER, operated to Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA) from Amsterdam, the Netherlands on 3rd May 2020. The purpose of the flight was to transfer 235 crew members to a cruise ship anchored at Galle Harbor in Southern Sri Lanka. 

MIRA had made all required arrangements to facilitate the passenger arrival and transfer as per the guidelines of the Health authorities of Sri Lanka. MRIA connectivity with the extensive modern road network made it easy to complete the entire operation in a very short period of time.

Meanwhile, 53 crew members aboard the vessel, departed to the Netherlands on the return flight.

This shows the strategic importance of Sri Lanka’s geographical location at the southernmost tip of the Indian Ocean right in the center of aviation and maritime routes connecting the East and the West. This type of operation to transfer a crew for a vessel took place for the first time and this is an enormous untapped opportunity that the AASL has capitalized to promote MRIA.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) had recently jointly called the governments to take IATA and ICS on urgent measures to facilitate crew change flights for seafarers.

Shipping is vital to the maintenance of global supply chains, but the current situation is unsustainable for the safety and wellbeing of ships’ crews and the safe operation of maritime trade. Each month about 100,000 merchant seafarers need to be changed over from the ships on which they operate to ensure compliance with international maritime regulations protecting the safety, health, and welfare.

The aviation and maritime transport industries are the lifeblood of the global economy, moving the world’s goods and products which are necessary to allow society to continue to function efficiently throughout the COVID-19 crisis