Muscat: A substantial increase in inbound traffic, especially from the GCC, has encouraged Sri Lankan Airlines to nearly double their flight frequency to Colombo from the different destinations in the region.
“We have seen almost 43.2 per cent increase in passengers coming into Colombo from the GCC states,” Lal Perera, Sri Lankan Airlines Regional Manager for Middle East and Africa, said at a media briefing on Sunday night at the Al Falaj Hotel.
He said that so far until the end of November in 2011, at least 85, 990 people had visited Sri Lanka from the GCC. “We expect the number to go up to 95,000 or beyond by the end of this year,” he said. In 2010, at least 60,109 people had visited Sri Lanka.
He added that the airline had decided to double its frequency from Muscat to Colombo. “We had two flights a week but now we will operate four flights a week on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays,” Perera said, adding that there could be further increase in flights in future.
“We have increased flights from Doha to Colombo from five to seven in a week,” he revealed. The airline will also operate daily flights from Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Kuwait. “We are trying to increase number of flights to five between Colombo and Riyadh and Jeddah.”
He also added that in the last five years, the fares to Colombo from GCC states had dropped to almost 50 per cent. “The competition between airlines has benefitted passengers in the last five years<’ he said.
He also said that the Indian Diaspora in GCC can avail of Sri Lankan Airlines’ 77 flights per week to seven cities in India while taking their vacation. The Sri Lankan Airlines senior official in Middle East pointed out that since peace had returned to the pearl island, Sri Lanka had become an attractive proposition not only for expatriates from Asian sub-continent but also GCC nationals.
“We also have excellent connections to the Far East with nominal charges so tourists can make the best use of our services to see Sri Lanka while touring Far East,” he suggested.