Sri Lanka has postponed the reopening of its airspace for commercial flights until further notice to prevent the spread of a new variant of the coronavirus, officials said.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka (CAASL) had previously announced that it will resume international flights operations from 26 December, eight months after they were closed in view of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The decision to postpone the resumption of flights was taken in the wake of the new coronavirus strain, which is spreading fast in the UK, said Airport and Aviation Services Chairman G.A. Chandrasiri on Saturday.
According to Rajeeva Suriyarachchi, another senior airport official, due to the postponement, the flight carrying Russian tourists that was scheduled to arrive on Sunday has been cancelled.
The flight was a part of the Government’s efforts to reopen the island nation to foreign tourists amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, a flight with a group of tourists from Ukraine will arrive in Lanka on Monday as scheduled, Suriyarachchi said.
Several countries across the world have already closed their land and sea borders and suspended commercial flights over fears about the new coronavirus strain.
Sri Lanka’s two international airports were closed in mid-March, as the country went into a lockdown. The lockdown was gradually lifted by mid-May.
Initial plans were to open international flight by the end of August but the COVID-19 cases abroad rose and the plans were stalled.
Sri Lanka was hit by a second wave of the coronavirus in October.
The number of deaths, which stood at just 13 in early October, currently stands at 185. In total, the island nation has far recorded 39,231 COVID-19 cases. (Source: https://www.albawaba.com/business/sri-lanka-postpones-airspace-reopening-commercial-flights-1401324)