SriLankan airlines plans new regional, international routes
CAPITALISTING on Sri Lanka’s central location between Europe, Asia and Africa, national carrier SriLankan airlines is focusing on enhancing its services to existing destinations as well as looking at new options as part of its current five-year expansion plan.
Chief executive Peter Hill said the carrier was implementing a threefold strategy aimed at boosting the reputation of SriLankan as an international carrier of substance, and as a regional airline offering frequent links between major cities.
“With a new A340 aircraft in our fleet, we will launch services to Beijing this autumn, offering three flights a week as an extension of our Bangkok service,” he said. “In addition, with our additional A320s we can take advantage of the new open skies agreement with India to extend our connections on the Sub-continent, such as the inaugural flight to Calicut from Colombo on July 1.” Calicut is the tenth destination on the airline’s Indian network – and the 34th worldwide – and is part of a strategy to strengthen the carrier’s South Asian reach, as well as expansion both east and west to boost its position as a hub for intercontinental travel.
Hill said two years’ of consolidation were planned to enable SriLankan to add more frequencies on existing routes: “We need double daily services between Colombo and Dubai, for instance, as the demand exists, while our key London route could also accommodate twice daily frequency.” He said SriLankan was looking to add capacity into major source markets such as Germany, Switzerland and Japan, with new areas under research being Korea, South Africa and Australia.
As the third prong in its operational strategy, SriLankan is opening up the country with an air taxi service, offering fast and frequent transfers on Cessna Caravan amphibious aircraft between the airport at Colombo and major tourist destinations such as Kandy, Bentota and Trincomalee.
In tandem with route expansion, SriLankan is also to introduce a global booking engine this summer, facilitating reservations through the Internet.
The airline currently offers services to Tokyo, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Jakarta in the Far East; Male in the Maldives and 10 destinations in India, eight points in the Middle East, plus Paris, Zurich, Frankfurt and Munich, and London in Europe.
In addition, a recent code-share agreement with British Midland means passengers on SriLankan can connect to that carrier’s flights from London.