Former Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera questioned the use of a SriLankan Airlines flight to transfer a group of Chinese passengers to Shanghai.
Samaraweera posted an image taken on the flight and asked why China did not choose one of their own airlines to carry their citizens home.
“Pictures from UL 504 from London taking passengers to Shanghai via Colombo: the Sri Lankan crew seen posing with the Chinese flag! The question is why China did not choose one of their own airlines to carry their citizens home. They have over a dozen international carriers,” he said.
In response, the Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka tweeted saying there is only one direct flight weekly that is operated by China Eastern Airlines on Friday, the day the transfer took place.
“Tens of thousands of Overseas Chinese students in UK & US, need more aircrafts. We appreciate SL Airlines’ help on a commercial basis. Transfer between aircrafts brings more risk,” the Embassy said.
However, Samaraweera responded saying most Sri Lankans want to know why China chartered SriLankan Airlines via Colombo when it has over a dozen airlines and other international airlines capable of flying directly from London.
“Did not your passengers transfer from UL504 to UL 866 after transiting in Colombo for 2 hours? If your Government hired on a ‘commercial basis’ one of your own long haul flights directly to Shanghai from London there would have been no transfer risks.” (Colombo Gazette)