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Facts About Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB) in Colombo


It may surprise you that Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB) in Colombo was ranked as the world’s fourth most punctual airport by aviation analysts OAG. Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB) in Colombo is a hub of Sri Lankan aviation, known for its rich history, modern facilities, and unique architectural design. Whether you’re a business traveler or a tourist, Bandaranaike International Airport is the gateway to Sri Lanka’s cultural and natural wonders. Let’s get into the most interesting facts about Colombo’s Bandaranaike international airport “CMB” together.

Overview About Bandaranaike International Airport

  • Airport Code: (IATA: CMB, ICAO: VCBI)
  • Airport Name: Bandaranaike International Airport
  • Location: Katunayake, Sri Lanka
  • of Terminals: 3 Terminal
  • Distance from City Center: 5 KM

Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB) is the primary international airport in Sri Lanka, located in the town of Katunayake, about 35 kilometers north of Colombo, the country’s capital city. The airport was originally built as a Royal Air Force base during World War II and was converted for civilian use in the 1950s. Today, it serves as a hub for both domestic and international airlines, handling over 10 million passengers annually. Statistics show that CMB is the 50th busiest airport in Asia. Moreover, The airport offers a wide range of services and amenities for travelers, including duty-free shopping, restaurants, lounges, and a dedicated spa and wellness center. In short, Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB) is a hub for Sri Lankan Airlines, serving over 100 destinations worldwide and handling over 11.5 million passengers annually.


Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport


7 Surprising Facts About Bandaranaike International Airport You Didn’t Know

Curious to learn more about Bandaranaike International Airport? From its rich history to its modern facilities and impressive statistics, there are many interesting and surprising facts to discover about this bustling airport. We’ll explore some of the lesser-known facts about Bandaranaike International Airport, giving you a deeper insight into one of the busiest airports in South Asia.

 Unveiling the History of Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB):

Bandaranaike International Airport, formerly known as Katunayake Airport, was named after the former Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike. It was officially opened in 1967, replacing Ratmalana Airport as the country’s main international airport. Over the years, it has undergone several expansions and renovations to accommodate the increasing number of passengers and airlines.

Navigating with Ease: Essential Facilities at Bandaranaike Airport (CMB):

Bandaranaike International Airport boasts modern facilities to provide a seamless travel experience for passengers. The airport features multiple terminals, with Terminal 1 serving international flights and Terminal 2 handling domestic flights. The terminals offer a wide range of amenities, including duty-free shopping, restaurants, currency exchange services, car rental agencies, lounges, and tourist information centers.


The airport has witnessed significant growth in passenger traffic over the years. With ongoing expansions and developments, it has increased its capacity to handle millions of passengers annually. Bandaranaike International Airport has implemented advanced security measures and efficient check-in procedures to ensure smooth operations and passenger satisfaction.

Cargo Operations:

In addition to its passenger services, Bandaranaike International Airport plays a crucial role in cargo operations. It serves as a major cargo hub in the region, facilitating the transportation of goods to various destinations worldwide. The airport’s strategically positioned cargo facilities and well-equipped warehouses ensure efficient handling, storage, and distribution of a wide range of cargo, including perishable goods and valuable commodities.

Unique Features and Interesting Facts:

  1. Runway Over the Road: Bandaranaike International Airport is unique in that one of its runways, Runway 04/22, intersects with a major road, the Colombo-Negombo highway. The road is closed whenever an aircraft takes off or lands, making it a fascinating sight for travelers and locals alike.
  2. Bird Sanctuary: The airport is home to a bird sanctuary, located near the runway. The sanctuary provides a safe haven for various species of birds and contributes to the preservation of biodiversity in the area.
  3. Historical Significance: Bandaranaike International Airport holds historical significance as it was the site of an attack by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2001. The attack resulted in the destruction of several aircraft and infrastructure, but the airport has since been rebuilt and strengthened its security measures.


Understanding Your Arrival/Departure: A Guide to Bandaranaike Airport Terminals

The airport has one terminal building, which is divided into two levels. The upper level is for departures, while the lower level is for arrivals. The airport has two runways, with the main runway being 3,350 meters long and the secondary runway being 3,050 meters long.


Arriving Smoothly: A Look at Bandaranaike Airport’s Arrival Halls and Baggage Claim

Bandaranaike International Airport serves as a hub for Sri Lankan Airlines, the national carrier of Sri Lanka. The airport is also served by many international airlines, including Emirates, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines, and Singapore Airlines. The airport offers flights to destinations across Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Australia.


Expansion Plans

In recent years, there have been plans to expand Bandaranaike International Airport to meet the growing demand for air travel in Sri Lanka. The expansion plans include the construction of a new terminal building, an additional runway, and new taxiways. These developments will increase the airport’s capacity to handle up to 35 million passengers per year.


The Different Names

The official airport name is Bandaranaike International Airport. Named after Sri Lanka’s former prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike. But it is often called Colombo International Airport, based on the city it serves. It is also referred to as Colombo-Bandaranaike. While locally it is known as Katunayake Airport. As it is located in Katunayake, a town north of Colombo. The IATA code of Colombo International Airport is CMB.


Elevate Your Journey: Bandaranaike Airport Concierge Services

As a leading provider of airport concierge services, airssist offers a range of services at Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB) in Colombo, Sri Lanka. These services include airport Meet and Greet, VIP Terminal and  Airport lounge access, and transportation assistance.

With airssist’s airport meet and greet service, a personal assistant will meet you upon arrival at the airport and guide you through the airport formalities, including immigration and baggage claim. The fast-track service allows you to bypass long lines and expedite the security and immigration process. Also, If you’re looking for a comfortable and relaxing environment to wait for your flight, airssist can arrange airport lounge access, where you can enjoy complimentary food and beverages, Wi-Fi, and other amenities.

Additionally, airssist can assist you with transportation arrangements, including airport transfers and car rentals. Their team of specialists is dedicated to making your travel experience as smooth and stress-free as possible, ensuring that you have a hassle-free journey from start to finish.


Frequently Asked Questions


Q: When was Bandaranaike International Airport built?

A: Bandaranaike International Airport was originally built as a military airfield during World War II. Construction began in 1942 under British colonial rule, and it served as an important base for Allied forces during the war. After the war, it was developed into a civilian airport and officially opened for international flights in 1967.


Q: What are some unique features of the airport?

A: Bandaranaike International Airport boasts several unique features:

  1. Architectural Design: The airport’s architecture blends modern elements with traditional Sri Lankan aesthetics, featuring a distinctive roof design inspired by indigenous architectural styles.
  2. Runway Over the Road: One of the airport’s runways, Runway 04/22, intersects with a major road, the Colombo-Negombo highway. This requires the temporary closure of the road during takeoffs and landings, creating a fascinating spectacle.
  3. Bird Sanctuary: The airport is home to a bird sanctuary located near the runway, providing a safe haven for various bird species and contributing to environmental conservation efforts.


Q: What airlines operate out of Bandaranaike International Airport?

A: Bandaranaike International Airport serves as a hub for both domestic and international airlines. Some of the major airlines operating out of the airport include SriLankan Airlines, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Air India, British Airways, and Thai Airways, among others. The airport is well-connected to various destinations across Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and beyond.


Q: How far is the airport from Colombo city center?

A: Bandaranaike International Airport is located approximately 32 kilometers (20 miles) north of Colombo city center. The travel time between the airport and Colombo varies depending on traffic conditions and the mode of transportation chosen. By road, it usually takes around 40 minutes to 1 hour to reach the city center. Transportation options include taxis, private transfers, and public buses.


Q: What are some interesting facts about the airport’s name?

A: Bandaranaike International Airport is named after Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike, a prominent political figure in Sri Lanka. S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike served as the fourth Prime Minister of Ceylon (as Sri Lanka was formerly known) from 1956 until his assassination in 1959. The airport’s name honors his contributions to the country’s independence and his role in shaping Sri Lankan politics during a critical period. The renaming of the airport was a tribute to his legacy and his family’s significant impact on the nation.


In Conclusion,

Bandaranaike International Airport is a modern and efficient airport that offers a range of services and facilities for passengers. With plans for expansion underway, the airport is set to become an even more important hub for air travel in the region.

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