Whale watching by air

Thursday, 12 December 2013 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  •  Simplifly launches aerial tours, opens Galle Fort office
Domestic airline and helicopter operator ‘Simplifly’ will launch aerial whale watching tours from mid December this year, according to a company statement released yesterday. To facilitate the tours, the airline will be basing an aircraft full time in the south from December to March (during the peak whale-watching season) and will operate a minimum of nine excursion flights per week to meet anticipated demand from local and foreign visitors, the company said. “Simplifly is proud to be the first domestic airline to base an aircraft in the south of the country, in recognition of the importance we place on the Galle area for tourism in Sri Lanka. From being the first private sector airline to launch helicopter flights in Sri Lanka nine years ago, to being the first airline to open a fully staffed office in Galle, we take pride in leading innovation in the domestic airline space, and the launch of our excursion flights from the south is another milestone we take pride in,” said Millennium Airlines (the holding company of the Simplifly brand) Vice Chairman Suren Mirchandani. Sri Lanka joins a small group of countries that currently offer whale-watching excursions by air, including South Africa and New Zealand. Long advocated by marine biologists, the aerial tours have the benefit of not disturbing whales in their natural habitat, which is a worrying trend in Sri Lanka, where dozens of vessels chase down whales and create a large stress burden for the world’s largest mammals, in addition to marine pollution from lubricants and fuel. As compared to a 4-5 hour trip by boat, the aerial excursion takes just one hour and can also operate when sea surface conditions are not ideal for boat journeys. According to the airline, the flights will also include a flyby of the azure Mirissa and Unawatuna coastline, and a close up aerial tour of the historic Galle Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage site. “We are particularly pleased to be able to offer our guests a truly unique experience of the Galle Fort as seen from the air at no extra cost, an amazing visual treat for amateur photographers and those fascinated by architecture and history,” added the company in their release to the media. Simplifly is the most experienced domestic airline and the only one to offer both helicopters and fixed wing aircraft, while also operating aircraft (including an amphibian Cessna) on behalf of third party corporate owners under its ‘Ready-Jet-Go!’ turnkey management program.