SriLankan gets busier from Dec; adds 50th destination in Jan.

Monday, 1 November 2010 01:57 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

SriLankan Airlines has firmed up a host of additional services from December in addition to inducting its 50th destination, Guangzhou in China, from January next year.

The national carrier said it was keeping its promise to the country’s tourism industry by expanding capacity throughout much of its route network starting this month in Europe, the Middle East, the Subcontinent, Southeast Asia and the Far East.

The most significant addition will be the launch of thrice-weekly services to Guangzhou scheduled for 28 January, the fourth city in China to be served by SriLankan. This would take the route network to 50 destinations in 31 countries.

In Europe, SriLankan will add its 13th weekly flight to London, with effect from 15 December, flying twice daily on all days except Friday.

In India, where SriLankan serves six cities, there will be increases to Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore. Mumbai will have a total of 10 flights from 1 December, up from the earlier daily frequency. Chennai will have one additional flight for a total of 15 flights, with three on Friday and two each on all other days from 1 December. Bangalore will go to a daily frequency with the addition of one more flight from 1 December.

From 1 December, the number of flights to Malé is being increased to six per day from the earlier three to four per day, further strengthening SriLankan’s longstanding position as the largest carrier into the Maldives.

Karachi will also have an added frequency, bringing it to four per week from 1 December.

In Southeast Asia, both Singapore and Kuala Lumpur will have an added flight for a total of 11 flights each from 1 December. The Middle East will witness significant changes throughout the region including the services to Bahrain, Muscat and Doha.

The airline has already begun expanding its fleet for the impressive growth, with seven more aircraft by the end of 2011. The first of these, a wide-body Airbus A330, arrived last July. Three more are planned by February 2011, including two Airbus A320’s, plus a De Havilland Twin Otter Floatplane for the re-launch of the domestic service SriLankan Air Taxi.

The major expansion of capacity, which was first announced at the Airline’s 31st anniversary celebration last month, will commence with the Winter 2010/11 schedule which begins on 31 October and runs through March 2011.

Head of Worldwide Sales Mohamed Fazeel said: “SriLankan Airlines intends to be a major catalyst in the country’s tourism boom, and as promised we are expanding our capacity, increasing frequencies, and widening our route network to support Sri Lanka’s tourism industry. These changes are being carried out after careful consideration of market opportunities, in keeping with the Government’s plans for growth in tourism.”

The Government this year repurchased the stake in the Airline that had been privatised in 1998, bringing its shareholding to 94.68%. The remainder shares are held by the Airline’s employees.

“Our expansion will cater to most of the largest and most dynamic markets. These include traditional markets such as the UK, India, and the Maldives, plus emerging markets such as China, Malaysia and Singapore,” noted Fazeel.

Tourist arrivals have grown by 46.7% in the first eight months of 2010, in comparison to the same period last year, according to statistics of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority.

SriLankan is also planning to add even more comfort and sophistication to its fleet next year by adding the latest luxurious flatbeds and AVOD entertainment systems (Audio-Video On Demand) in Business Class.