More airlines enter booming Sri Lanka

MORE international airlines are flying into Colombo to take advantage of Sri Lanka’s booming tourism, while new local operators are also emerging for internal travel.

Malaysia’s AirAsia is making a comeback to Colombo, after having suspended operations in February this year, citing commercial reasons relating to flight operations and aircraft availability. It hopes to restart flights through AirAsia X possibly in August.

According to Ranjeewa Senaratne, AirAsia’s sales and marketing manager in Colombo, the airline has applied for permission to resume flights and is awaiting a response from the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka.

Similarly, Maldivian Airlines, the Maldives’ main domestic carrier with few international flights, will start thrice-weekly flights to Colombo effective August 7 from Gan International Airport.

Maldives’ economic development minister, Ahmed Mohamed, said increasing trade and tourism ties between the two countries led to the decision for the national carrier to have flights to Colombo. The airline now flies to local islands as well as Chennai, Dhaka and Trivandrum on the international sector.

New Sri Lankan domestic carrier, Cinnamon Air, has begun daily flights to several inland destinations since last week (TTG Asia e-daily, June 14, 2013) while some other new domestic carriers have applied for licenses.

However, Singapore-based budget carrier Tigerair is pulling out of Colombo next month, citing low yields after operating to the Sri Lankan capital a little more than a year (TTG Asia e-daily, March 23, 2012).

Airline officials said although the load factors were good at 85 per cent, yield (per flight) was not enough to make operations economically viable.

Tiger had begun thrice-weekly flights to Colombo on May 31 last year and increased the service to four-times weekly in September, due to rising demand.

Many travel companies said Tiger might be discontinuing operations because the Colombo-Singapore route was overcrowded with competition.

Noted Sundaram Paramanathan, a top travel consultant and president of the IATA Agents Association of Sri Lanka: “There are too many flights from airlines such as Singapore Airlines, SriLankan Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Emirates.”

[Via TTG Asia]

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