SriLankan Airlines will restart services to the Swiss city of Zurich on 23 December 2011, the latest destination in the continuous expansion of its global route network.
Zurich would be the 53rd destination in SriLankan’s global route network which would then span 34 countries. The Airline has in the past 10 months launched services to Shanghai, Guangzhou and Kochi, with a new Moscow service scheduled in September 2011.
Zurich was served by Sri Lanka’s National Carrier for a quarter of a century from 1980, but the service was suspended in 2005 during a global slump in air travel.
SriLankan Airlines Chairman Nishantha Wickremasinghe said: “We are delighted to re-launch services to Zurich which we have been planning for some time now. This will significantly strengthen our services to travellers in central Europe, which is viewed as a market with great potential for tourism to Sri Lanka.”
The Zurich service would be operated on wide-bodied Airbus A330 and A340 aircraft with luxurious interiors, flat bed seating, and state-of-the-art Audio Video On Demand (AVOD) entertainment systems.
The new service will initially be twice-weekly on Monday and Friday and would be increased in the future.
Tourism from Europe to Sri Lanka has witnessed tremendous growth in the past two years since the dawn of peace in the Indian Ocean island, with global travellers rediscovering the attractions of the island known as Paradise for millennia – excellent hotels, golden beaches, tropical jungles, mist-swathed mountains, 2,500-year-old cultural sites and bargain shopping.
The new service would serve travellers in Switzerland, southern Germany, eastern France and Austria, all of which also have sizeable populations of Sri Lankan emigrants.
Tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka set an all-time record of 654,000 in 2010 and have since grown by 40% in the first four months of this year. The Government of Sri Lanka has identified tourism as a thrust industry to drive the country’s post-war economic growth and is investing in a new international airport, upgrading the existing international airport, and developing the country’s road network and other infrastructure.
SriLankan, which has a traditional market share of 50% of travellers to and from the island, has rapidly expanded its fleet to 19 aircraft from just 12 a year ago, and re-launched its domestic service SriLankan Air Taxi last December making any part of the island accessible in less than an hour.
The Zurich-Colombo flight is likely to operate via Malé in the Maldive Islands, another highly popular tourist destination where SriLankan Airlines has traditionally been the largest airline.