A SriLankan Airlines Airbus A340 touched down at the King Abdulaziz International Airport on March 27, marking the launch of the airline’s twice weekly service to Jeddah. Jeddah is the airlines’ 51st destination in a network spanning 28 countries.
Coinciding with the launch, a fully fledged station office, located at the Kanoo Tower, Kilo 7 Madina Road will also open its doors to the public.
Earlier this month SriLankan Airlines signed a code share agreement with Saudi Arabian Airlines, which allows both airlines to jointly market the flights.
SriLankan Airlines’ Head of Worldwide Passenger Sales, Manoj Gunawardena said, ‘This is a significant milestone for SriLankan, taking us a step closer to giving our passengers in Asia the best connections from their home country to the Middle East. We are confident that this new route will be a great success for both our airlines and a greater convenience for our passengers.’
The commercial hub of Saudi Arabia and the principal gateway to Makkah, the holiest city in Islam, is SriLankan Airlines’ third destination in Saudi Arabia after Dammam and Riyadh and the ninth in the Middle East. Other key destinations in the region include Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Bahrain, Doha, Muscat and Kuwait.
The launch falls in line with the airline’s 2006 strategy, initiated to expand its services in the Middle East and increase its leisure travel focus, catering to Arab nationals, western expatriates and the returning Asian migrant work population.
SriLankan Airlines Regional Manager for Middle East, CIS and Africa, Mohamed Fazeel said, ‘We are always looking for new opportunities to enhance our operations to the Middle East. Adding new destinations and increasing frequencies to the region is a vital component of our strategy.
The airline’s Colombo hub is ideally positioned to connect Middle East travellers with seventeen destinations in South Asia and the Far East.
The airline has a strong presence in the Indian market as the foreign carrier with the most number of frequencies, operating 95 weekly flights into 10 destinations across India. The schedule includes double daily services to Madras and Mumbai and a daily service to other destinations in India.
SriLankan Airlines also operates a double daily service to the Maldives and regular services to the Far East including near double daily service to Malaysia and Singapore and over nine flights to Thailand.
Holiday makers can also opt to stop over at Colombo for shopping and a city expedition or venture inland and explore the island’s wildlife in the vast national parks for a glimpse of the elusive leopard or the majestic elephant. Sri Lanka is also home to some the world’s most exotic birdlife.
Sri Lanka also offers a rich cultural heritage that is worth discovering, including the 4th century rock fortress in Sigiriya or the ancient kingdoms of Anuradhapura.
The airlines’ leisure travel management arm, SriLankan Holiday offers travellers very attractive all inclusive holiday packages to Sri Lanka, the Maldives, India and the Far East.
Holiday packages cover all costs and taxes and include air travel, star class hotel accommodation, tours, transfers and a host of other conveniences.
SriLankan Airlines is majority owned by the Government of Sri Lanka (51.05 %) with Dubai based Emirates holding a 43.6 percent stake and a ten year management contract.