SriLankan Airlines has set its sights on double daily Dubai services to complement a growing Middle East and Gulf network. Barry Brown, the carrier’s regional manager for Europe, Middle East and the Americas, said: “Without doubt, Dubai is the most progressive tourism draw-card on any airline’s Middle East network, and as the city continues to expand, it is our intention to grow right alongside her.
“SriLankan and Emirates currently operate 27 flights per week between Colombo and Dubai, all on a dynamic code-share basis, and we plan to take this up to a total number of 34 flights in the near future.”
Emirates is a 43.5 per cent stakeholder in SriLankan Airlines, and has a 10-year management agreement with the Asian carrier, whose majority shareholder is the Government of Sri Lanka.
Brown explained: “We are capitalising on this airline partnership and use Dubai as a `gateway hub` to feed each other’s flights where either one of us may not have direct services. After all, in this day and age it is all about utilising effective synergies to create profits.”
The airline also services Kuwait on a daily basis via Dubai and in a recent round of government bilateral talks, the airline was granted permission to add two more services a week between Colombo and Kuwait.
“We have not yet cemented our plans for these extra Kuwait flights but we are looking at operating from Colombo to Beirut via Kuwait, adding a new dimension to our Middle East network,” continued Brown.
SriLankan Airlines provides flights from Colombo to eight Middle Eastern cities: Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Dammam, Doha, Dubai, Kuwait, Muscat and Riyadh.
“Under our Open-Skies policy with India we are now operating 62 flights per week from Colombo to 10 Indian destinations. Apart from India being our largest tourism trading partner, we also cater to a large number of migrant workers that travel from all parts of India to the Middle East. As a result we are adding our fourth Doha service in June specifically to cater to this market.”
SriLankan Airlines operates to New Delhi, Bombay, Madras, Bangalore, Trichy, Trivandrum, Bodh Gaya, Kochi and Hyderabad, and to Calicut from July 1.
SriLankan Airlines has embarked on an aggressive growth plan that has seen it becoming more and more profitable, rapidly increasing its number of destinations around the world, and increasing frequencies to existing destinations.
With the launch of flights to Calicut, SriLankan Airlines will fly to 42 destinations in 21 countries across Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The fleet strength of this all-Airbus carrier has also been increasing rapidly to cater to its growing services.
SriLankan Airlines recently entered into a codeshare agreement with British Midland that extended its services to more cities in England, Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Belgium, France and the Netherlands. SriLankan also has codeshare flights with Malaysia Airlines, Oman Air and Swiss Air, as well as Emirates, and plans to resume codeshare services on Indian Airlines flights to provide even more services to India.
The airline recently launched SriLankan Air Taxis, a domestic air taxi service that uses an amphibious Cessna Caravan Floatplane to fly to six destinations on the Indian Ocean island, landing at airfields and some of the many lakes and lagoons around the country. The service is very popular with tourists, as it provides the convenience of hassle-free travel between resorts, and the low-flying aircraft gives them a breathtaking view of the panorama of the island known to visitors through the centuries as Paradise.
SriLankan Airlines will make its entry into China in October 2004 with a thrice-weekly Beijing-Bangkok-Colombo service.
SriLankan Airlines has won a string of global awards in recent times, which include the Skytrax Award for the Best Airline in Central Asia for four consecutive years since 2001, the TTG (Asia) Best Airline in South Asia Award in 2002, Skytrax’s World’s Friendliest Cabin Crew Award 2002, First Runner-Up in the Skytrax Best Cabin Staff Award for 2003, Avion’s Best Inflight Entertainment Award 2003 for a Fleet Size of 20 or Less, and Reise & Preise magazine’s Best Airline in the 2003 survey of Economy Class service.
Skywards, the frequent flyer programme of SriLankan and Emirates, won six “Freddie Awards” last year, the frequent flyer equivalent of the Oscars. These included the most coveted “Programme of the Year” award.
SriLankan is also known for its high level of punctuality, among the highest among the world’s airlines and by far the best in the region.
The airline is also involved in Adventure Tourism through SriLankan Adventures, and promotes the island as a prime location for Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE tourism). It also organizes several international sports events in Sri Lanka, including surfing, horseracing, golf and rugby football tournaments that draw visitors from around the globe.