Jaffna in northern Sri Lanka is due to open for international services on October 16, with India's Alliance Air (India) (9I, Mumbai Int'l) and IndiGo Airlines (6E, Delhi Int'l) reportedly eyeing flights to the city, Sri Lankan Daily News has reported.

Airport officials said that so far no firm decisions had been taken. Sri Lanka is currently trying to rebuild its image as a safe tourist destination after Easter bombing attacks killed 259 people. The Controller General of the Immigration and Emigration Department Pasan Ratnayake said that the agency was ready to staff immigration and customs at Jaffna at any time to facilitate the launch of international services at the airport.

Jaffna airport was damaged and temporarily closed during the Sri Lankan civil war as it was located in Tamil-controlled territory. It reopened to civilian traffic in 2002 and has since seen intermittent domestic traffic.

Currently, no airline offers scheduled services to Jaffna, although Cinnamon Air (C7, Colombo Int'l) and FitsAir (8D, Colombo Int'l) both fly charter services to the airport from Colombo Ratmalana. Several other operators also offer helicopter charter flights there.

The northern airport currently sports a 2,305-metre-long runway, according to the Sri Lankan Aeronautical Information Services. However, flag carrier SriLankan Airlines (UL, Colombo Int'l) said that only 800 metres would be available for its flights, making the runway too short for jet operations. SriLankan Airlines said it would be interested in serving Jaffna once the runway is extended.

Jaffna would become the country's third international gateway after Colombo Int'l and Hambantota in the south. The former airport does not see any scheduled international services and lost its only foreign route, to Dubai Int'l (via Colombo Int'l), when flydubai (FZ, Dubai Int'l) pulled out in June 2018.

The Sri Lankan government is also in the process of opening up Ratmalana and Batticaloa to international traffic.