Lal Perera, Regional Manager of the Middle East and Africa, talking with the Kuwait Times. —Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat
Starting on May 1, Sri Lankan Airlines will start a direct and daily flight to Colombo from Kuwait and vice versa. The regular route will depart from Kuwait at 21:55pm daily and arrive in Colombo at 6:15am. Speaking with the Kuwait Times, Lal Perera, Regional Manager in the Middle East and Africa, said the need for the direct flight is now essential. “The new direct flight will commence from May 1 to serve our passengers who have been requesting a daily and direct flight to and from Kuwait. We yield to our passengers demand. The current Kuwait-Dubai-Colombo will be disconnected, but the direct Sri Lankan Airlines flight from Dubai to Colombo will continue,” he explained.
According to Perera, one thing that Sri Lankan Airlines considered was the growing tourism demand from the Middle East. “In January and February 2012 alone, we noticed an increase of 42 percent in arrivals from the Middle East. Tourism during the same period last year stood at 5,359 compared to 7,625 tourists this year. We do not have statistics from Kuwait, but when we talk about Middle East Kuwait is one of the wealthiest country in this region. Kuwaitis love to travel, especially during holidays or summer breaks, so I believe the percentage of tourists arriving from Kuwait will be higher,” he mentioned.
Passengers will henceforth be able to enjoy the speed of non-stop flights coupled with the luxury and comfort of wide-bodied A 330 and A 340 aircraft as they travel to Colombo and beyond.
“Travelers will be treated with a real in-flight experience; from convenience to food and hospitality.” The Sri Lankan flag carrier is an award winning airlines with a firm reputation as a global leader in service, comfort, safety, reliability and punctuality.
Sri Lanka’s national carrier will he operating a total of 47 weekly flights into the Middle East effective next month. Since 1982, Kuwait continues to occupy a top slot as some of the key points in their portfolio are destinations in the Middle East.
“In addition to being a heavy ‘employment traffic market’, it also has great potential as a Leisure and VFR (Visiting Friends and Relatives) market. Although our flights currently operate via Dubai, the nonstop operation to be implemented is expected to increase capacity to Colombo and beyond by 100 percent,” he enthused.
Sri Lankan Airlines currently flies to seven cities in India- Bangalore, Chennai, Cochin, Delhi, Mumbai, Trichy and Trivandrum, with four flights per week. “This means that we’re further ensuring speedier outbound passenger travel from Kuwait to a wide range of South Indian destinations and Far Eastern destinations, including Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Jakarta via Colombo. This is a boon to our hundreds of commercial travelers, who require speedy business transactions with their partners in these destinations,” Perera added.
The new dawn of peace in Sri Lanka has been claiming significant numbers of passengers travelling to Sri Lanka for tourism purposes and or even business purposes. “Sri Lanka’s geographical location makes it ideal for most expatriates to enjoy dual holidays in Colombo and the Far East of Colombo, and the Maldives enroute to India for a nominal additional amount”, he pointed out.
I asked whether the on-going Arab Spring uprising has affected their business in the Middle East. “No. We are absolutely not affected or anything. In fact, to cite an example was our Bahrain route. Before, we only have four flights per week, but now we added one to become five per week. So we don’t feel any affect at all in our airlines.
In Muscat, we have only two per week we increased it to four. In Doha we went from five to seven. The latest one is splitting the fight from one route to two in Kuwait and Dubai. So you see, we haven’t been affected negatively at all. We do not have flights to Syria or Iran, so we have not affected by what is going on those places,” he beamed.
Sri Lankan Airlines recently completely transformation the cabin interiors in their entire fleet. The new look will have a subtle, traditional Sri Lankan aura to its plush interiors, and new state of the art entertainment. Travelling Business Class on Sri Lankan Airlines is luxury in the skies, with the introduction of flat bed seats in business class cabins on its wide bodied A 330 aircraft.
The underlying idea of the business class cabin upgrade is primarily to modernize the cabins and create a tranquil atmosphere in a traditional warm ambience of a Sri Lankan home in the sky. Sri Lankan Airlines operates a fleet of 22 aircraft – including wide-bodied A 340 and A 330 aircraft, and mid-range A 3205.
Sri Lankan Airlines currently operates to 60 destinations in 33 countries across the globe from Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and South Asia to Southeast Asia, the Far East, Australia, North America and Canada.