SriLankan launches direct flights to Kunming

Wednesday, 3 December 2014 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Marianne David in Kunming SriLankan Airlines’ inaugural flight from Kunming to Colombo took off from here early last morning, while the inaugural flight to Kunming took off from Colombo on Monday evening. The latest addition to SriLankan Airlines’ frequencies to China, the Kunming launch is an attempt to meet the increased demand for air services between the two countries. SriLankan Airlines Head of Worldwide Sales Lal Perera addressing the media in Kunming last evening as (from left) SriLankan Airlines Regional Manager – Sri Lanka and Maldives Saminda Perera, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to China Ranjith Uyangoda, SriLankan Airlines Regional Manager – Far East Dimuthu Tennakoon and SriLankan Airlines Area Manager – Kunming Asela Ambepitiya look on Addressing the media at a launch event in Kunming last evening, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to China Ranjith Uyangoda said there had been a massive increase in tourists from China to Sri Lanka in 2014, with the country recording 110,000 arrivals this year in comparison to 9,000 in 2011. “Against this backdrop, the launch of operations to Kunming is a historic occasion and a very important development in terms of SriLankan Airlines’ operations to China. Yunnan Province is the closest in terms of interaction for Sri Lanka, sharing an age-old historic relationship,” he added. Noting that the Government’s tourist arrivals target from China was 275,000 by 2016, Uyangoda predicted this would be surpassed by far, given the rapidly-rising arrivals. Following the announcement at the event in Kunming, a gala dinner featuring dance acts and other items of entertainment was held. A draw was also staged for two free tickets. SriLankan will operate three weekly flights from Kunming on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, while the flights departing from Colombo will be on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The national carrier also flies to Beijing, Shanghai, Canton and Hong Kong. SriLankan Airlines Head of Worldwide Sales Lal Perera said the immensely-successful operations to the other destinations in China had given SriLankan the confidence to launch direct operations to and from Kunming. “Now, we have 18 flights a week between Sri Lanka and China and these flights also have immediate connections to Male, offering dual destinations on one route, in addition to immediate connections to South India. We also have connections from China to all destinations in Europe, Middle East and India in 12 hours,” he added. SriLankan Airlines expects a total of 120,000-140,000 Chinese travellers to visit and experience Sri Lanka by the end of 2014. In the first four months of this year, 36,000 travellers from China flew SriLankan. The National Carrier will operate its A320 aircraft on the Kunming route, enabling passengers to enjoy the relaxing ambience and easy reclining seating on board, while it also features Chinese language translators, a Chinese menu and the latest Chinese movies and music onboard, further enhancing the experience for travellers from China.

Kunming flight a milestone – SriLankan Airlines CEO

  Speaking in Colombo at the launch on Monday at the Katunayake Airport shortly before the first flight took off to Kunming, SriLankan CEO Kapila Chandrasena said the National Carrier was furthering its expansion plan with yet another milestone. “Our future is in the East, led by China. We are very confident this is the right move. In the years to come China is going to play a huge role here. The National Carrier is privileged to be part of this initiative,” he added. The SriLankan launch ceremony featured Buddhist, Christian, Muslim and Hindu religious observances.