Opening a second international airport, Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa pledged his gratitude to China for its development loans on Monday.

Landing at the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport as the first official passenger aboard a special Srilankan flight, Rajapaksa made a tour of the entire facility before officially declaring it open at an auspicious time.

Referring to the 209 million U.S. dollar Chinese loan that funded the airport, Rajapaksa praised China for its assistance and pledged further close cooperation.

“While repeating my gratitude to the government of China for assisting us in this project and sending a special representative for this event, I also extend my good wishes to the new president of China. I also extend my thanks to all Chinese and Sri Lankan engineers, staff and all workers who assisted in this task”He added.

China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd. was the contractors for the construction of the airport and the total estimate was US$209 million. Chinese government  provided a loan of US$190 million.