The inaugural flight Boeing 767 of Austrian Airlines, the flagship carrier of Austria touched down at Bandaranaike International Airport on 28 October. After a lapse of almost eight years, the airline will now offer direct flights from Vienna to Colombo on weekly basis.
Austrian Airlines, a member of the Star Alliance is part of the Lufthansa group and operates a global route network of around 130 destinations. Austria is in the centre of Europe, with Italy and Slovenia to its south and Germany and the Czech Republic to its north. Given the ideal geographical location in the heart of Europe, direct air connectivity from Vienna to Sri Lanka is expected have a positive impact on the tourism industry of Sri Lanka.
Sir Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau officials including Madubani Perera – Director Marketing and Jagath Perera – Market Officer to Austria and Sweden welcomed the Austrian Airlines crew of the inaugural flight at the BIA.
As per the exit survey conducted by Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority in 2014, main activities undertaken by Austrian tourists to Sri Lanka are sea bathing, visit to historical sites and wildlife. Sri Lankan has seen year-on-year (YOY) improvement in tourist arrivals to the island. In the nine months to September 2015 tourist arrivals from Austria increased by 9% and arrivals from Western Europe to Sri Lanka increased by 16% over the same period last year.
Entry of new airlines to island highlights the confidence placed by the international community on Sri Lanka and weekly flights from Vienna to Colombo gives greater opportunity for the tourism industry of Sri Lanka to further grow the European market.