More airlines step up winter flights to SL

Colombo, Oct 25 (Representative) With more European carriers planning to fly into Colombo from next month, Sri Lanka Tourism anticipates a busy winter season. Swiss leisure airline Edelweiss, Air France, Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) and Russia’s largest charter airline Azur Air will resume service to Colombo from the first week of November, the Daily FT reported. The resumption of airline operations in Sri Lanka is a reflection of the efforts made by the Tourism Ministry internationally, to revive the industry ahead of the winter season. Tourism Minister Harin Fernando said Air France and KLM Airlines will operate four flights a week to Colombo. Separately, the Civil Aviation Authority Director-General and Chief Executive Officer P A Jayakantha told the Daily FT that Switzerland’s leading leisure travel airline and sister company of Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) Edelweiss will operate a weekly flight from November 10.

He also said that Azur Air will resume service to Colombo from November 3 with four flights per week. Jayakantha stated that around 32 airlines are currently registered with the CAA, including 21 scheduled passenger carriers; while more are likely to begin services to Colombo very soon. Immediately after reopening borders post-pandemic, only eight international airlines and 15 charter carriers were operating in Sri Lanka. Post-pandemic, a total of 37 international airlines operated in Sri Lanka. However, given the ongoing economic crisis, several airlines were contemplating suspending their operations in Sri Lanka as no credible solution was in sight to resolve the jet fuel shortage and the fund repatriation issues faced by the country’s aviation industry. The situation compelled several international airlines, including SriLankan Airlines, to use Trivandrum, Chennai and Kochi airports in south India as refuelling bases before continuing to Sri Lanka. The fuel shortage also prompted airlines to cut down on capacity to Colombo.