The airline said the launching of the new destinations reflects the airline’s further commitment in strengthening its presence in the region and beyond.
SriLankan will operate direct flights from Colombo to 11 new destinations namely Lahore, Pakistan, Jakarta, Indonesia, Dhaka, Bangladesh, Muscat, Oman, Kolkata, Madurai, Varanasi and Bodh Gaya India, Bahrain, Seychelles and Gan, Maldives.
Commenting on the network expansion, Ajith Dias, Chairman of SriLankan Airlines, said: “We have realigned our strategic focus to Asia, from the Middle East to the Far East, as we see excellent opportunities in this high-growth region. We are confident that the linking of so many Asian cities will produce a travel network which will be extremely convenient for our passengers and profitable for the airline.”
The Asia-Middle East region generated 923,338 visitors to Sri Lanka of the total 1,798,380 visitors in 2015, according to Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority statistics. The 11 new destinations include routes which generate business travelers, leisure travelers, labour traffic, pilgrim traffic and passengers in transit to and from SriLankan’s global route network.
Captain Suren Ratwatte, CEO of SriLankan Airlines, said: “Travelers throughout the Asia-Middle East region will now be able to enjoy the superb levels of service on SriLankan Airlines. We have modernized our product with brand new A330-300 aircraft which have already been added to our fleet, and will soon be joined by new A320neo and A321neo aircraft. So we treat our passengers to comfortable seating, state of the art entertainment systems, excellent in-flight cuisine, and flight attendants famed for their warmth and caring.”
The addition of Kolkata, Madurai, Bodh Gaya and Varanasi will make SriLankan Airlines the foreign airline with the largest network in India, one of the world’s largest travel markets, covering 11 cities with 106 flights per week, increasing from its present 88 flights to seven cities.
Sri Lanka’s award-winning carrier was just named “Best Full Service Airline in Central and South Asia” at the Future Travel Experience Asia Awards 2016 in Singapore for the second consecutive year.
SriLankan, which has for many years been the largest airline operation to the Maldives through its flights to the capital, Male, will become the only airline operating to Gan island in the southern part of the island chain.
Services to the Pakistani city of Lahore commenced on 27th September with a thrice-weekly frequency; while on 30th October services will be launched to Jakarta (4 flights), Dhaka (daily), Madurai (daily), Muscat (5 flights) and Kolkata (3 flights), and on the following day (31st October) to Bahrain (5 flights), Seychelles (4 flights), Varanasi (2 flights) and Bodh Gaya. Gan Island (4 flights) in the Maldives will join SriLankan’s network on 1st December, bringing the total number of destinations to 102 in 47 countries.
SriLankan Airlines is a member of the prestigious oneworld global airline alliance which connects over a thousand cities in 160 countries around the world. (Colombo Gazette)