National carrier to deploy two aircrafts each with capacity for 15 passengers
SriLankan Airlines is set to re-launch its domestic floatplane service – SriLankan Air Taxi – starting this December in time for the winter tourist season.
SriLankan’s Head of Worldwide Sales Mohamed Fazeel said: “We are delighted to announce that we will shortly be adding a new dimension to domestic travel, enabling all types of travellers to reach most parts of the island within 40 minutes. International visitors arriving in Sri Lanka can go straight on to their destinations with convenient connections.”
The National Carrier is planning to acquire two Twin Otter aircraft for the operation, each with a capacity of up to 15 passengers. These twin-engined aircraft are currently being sourced.
“SriLankan Air Taxi will supplement the country’s existing land-based domestic air services, as there are many parts of the country in which aerodromes are not conveniently located, but there are plenty of rivers and lakes that can serve as water-dromes. We have studied the market and there is definitely a demand for a rapid and convenient service among both tourists and Sri Lankans – from individuals and families to corporate groups,” said Fazeel.
Air Taxi operated for three years until operations were suspended in June 2007 at the height of the island’s conflict due to necessary security restrictions on domestic flying. During that period, it operated 3,000 flights and carried more than 17,000 passengers.
The airline’s plans include operating out of the city of Colombo, which would provide greater convenience for city dwellers than spending up to an hour and a half by road to reach either of the airports near the city – Bandaranaike International Airport and Colombo Airport in Ratmalana.
“While the country’s road network is rapidly developing, every country needs a good domestic flying service. We believe this would definitely strengthen the country’s tourism industry and draw more high-end travellers to the island. Air Taxi will give travellers the option of turning a 6-hour road trip into a 40-minute flight. This means you reach your destination fresh and smiling, rather than hot and bothered,” said Fazeel.
New water-dromes that Air Taxi is likely to operate from include Colombo’s Beira Lake, the Negombo Lagoon, Castlereagh, Tissamaharama and Arugam Bay. It would also operate to the many locations that were earlier used - Kandy, Bentota, Nuwara Eliya, Galle (Koggala), Ampara, Trincomalee, Dambulla and Dickwella.
“Air Taxi is extremely flexible, so anyone can book flights to wherever they want to go. We are also planning daily scheduled flights which would cover several destinations, as well as special air tours such as a Scenic Tour, charter flights, flights for special events such as cultural and sports events, and many more,” said Fazeel.
The low-flying aircraft would also provide a panoramic view of the island’s palm-fringed golden beaches, lush tropical forests, gushing waterfalls, and mist-swathed mountains.