Sri Lanka sees rebound in air connectivity 

Monday, 6 February 2023 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Charumini de Silva

The country has seen significant progress in international airlines operating in Sri Lanka boosting connectivity and the attractiveness of the destination. 

As per the latest statistics, 20 top global international airlines are operating in the country and have almost come to pre-pandemic frequency levels.

Apart from the national carrier, SriLankan Airlines; Emirates, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Edelweiss Air, Air France, Air India, China Eastern, Gulf Air, Etihad, Malaysian Airlines, Oman Air, Indigo, Air Asia and Fits Air are the airlines operating direct flights to the country. In addition, there are a number of code-share flights operating into Colombo and Mattala.

Most international airlines have resumed their operations gradually after the COVID pandemic and economic crisis.

Immediately after reopening borders post-pandemic, only eight international airlines and 15 charter carriers were operating in Sri Lanka. 

Thereafter, air traffic to Sri Lanka gradually rose with multiple international airlines operating in Colombo. Post-pandemic, a total of 37 international airlines operate in Sri Lanka. However, following the ongoing foreign exchange crisis and fuel crisis some of the carriers limited or had withdrawn their flights from Colombo.

Against this backdrop, analysts say the recovery of air connectivity amidst the foreign exchange crisis, is indeed an encouraging move.

Emirates operates 27 flights per week now, against 28 flights operated in pre-pandemic 2019, and Qatar Airways has 23 flights operating per week whereas it had 35 flights operated in 2019. Air India’s frequency per week is 10 at present compared to the 14 flights in 2019, Etihad has resumed six flights per week from the 14 frequencies per week in 209.

Gulf Air has 14 flights per week at present showing an increase of seven frequencies from pre-pandemic 2019, whilst China Eastern had resumed the four frequencies per week same as in 2019.

Tourism Minister Harin Fernando also expressed contentment with many airlines still calling and increasing their frequencies to Colombo.

As per the Civil Aviation Authority around 32 airlines are currently registered with the CAA.