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Airlines call for lower charges at airport to boost flights


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  • Seek concessions on aviation fuel, landing and parking, ground handling and revision of Embarkation Tax along with improved travel advisories

     

With Easter Sunday terror attacks impacting tourist traffic, the airlines last week called for reduction or removal of charges slapped on their operations to Sri Lanka, failing which a scaling down was imminent.

This concern and suggestions to rectify the precarious situation came up for discussion at the meeting between airlines and travel and tourism industry on Friday chaired by Minister John Amaratunga.

The meeting, the second since the 21 April mayhem, was to assess how airlines could support a quicker revival of tourism via a cohesive recovery plan.

The airlines in order to drive up arrivals requested the Government in the short term to offer concessions on aviation fuel, landing and parking, ground handling and revision of the Embarkation Tax. They also requested the Government to urgently lobby and remove adverse travel advisories to support and protect flight bookings from key markets such as China and India which are currently holding for June and July travel. Sources said as part of support for a quick revival, airlines proposed to offer special fares to Sri Lanka (post travel ban removals), invite tour operators and agents on familiarisation trips, invite media from different markets and focus on new markets where they would have seats available.

The travel and tourism industry representatives present at the meeting thanked the Government for the financial package and committed to build security at hotels for the safety of guests. They requested the Government to arrange safety audits to be carried out and stringent procedures implemented for the safety and security of all.

Another suggestion was writing to the diplomatic missions, building confidence amongst the diplomatic community and getting the Sri Lankan ambassadors overseas to sell the destination.

The industry pointed out that there were less ticket cancellations in June compared to May.

It was emphasised that President and Prime Minister must come together on a common platform and assure the improved security situation post-Easter Sunday attacks and outline measures underway to further strengthen safety and security of citizens and tourists.

It was agreed that a subcommittee with representatives from Board of Airline Representatives (BAR), Tourist Hotels Association (THASL) and Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) would meet this week with specific proposals to objectively drive the action plan to ensure immediate implementation when travel advisories are relaxed and removed.

 

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