2ND LEAD

Limited SLAF flights to Palaly

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 22 August 2006, 06:40 GMT]
The Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) has resumed limited flights between Ratmalana air base in Colombo and the Palaly airbase on the Jaffna peninsula, military sources in Colombo said. Taking off and landing at Palaly is restricted to late evening or night and the number of trips has been limited to two.

Since August 12, all commercial and fixed wing military flights were suspended due to artillery fire by Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The shelling has damaged the runway at Palaly.

SLAF aircraft, informed sources said, have been taking an alternate route to Palaly by travelling via Indian airspace, a strategy adopted by SLAF during the 1995 fighting in Jaffna.

Aircraft which take off from Ratmalana airport near Colombo first fly into Indian airspace and loiter over the sea near Rameswaram before flying into land in Palaly over Senthankulal in Ilavalai.

Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) stand guard off the coast and a SLAF helicopter remains airborne during the take offs and landings, security sources said.

The SLAF flights are being used for removing injured soldiers from the peninsula, delivering ‘essential goods’ and transporting senior officials, sources said. Transport is not being extended to Army troopers on leave awaiting to travel to their homes in south, they said.

 

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