Sri Lanka’s National Carrier SriLankan Airlines had announced last week that it would be offering special cargo-only flights starting May 18th. The decision comes at a time when the country’s export industry has taken a hit following the spread of coronavirus. Services to the Middle East, Europe, the Far East, and the Indian subcontinent will help in securing a lifeline for Sri Lanka’s economy and bring in much-needed revenue for the airline.
This move is a part of the Sri Lankan government’s effort to relax restrictions for the import of manufacturing-related raw material. It will help in the revival of the country’s economy and keep businesses going until normalcy resumes.
Helping in whatever way possible
The Chairman of SriLankan Airlines, Mr. Ashok Pathirage, said the following on his company’s website:
“At a time when most other airlines are keeping their fleets grounded and global trade by air is under a lockdown situation. The Government is extremely keen on restarting the country’s export industries at the earliest possible moment, and we at SriLankan Airlines have been intent on restarting our services.”
SriLankan Airlines has since early April suspended all scheduled passenger flights. Although the initial suspension period was for only two weeks, reduced passenger demand has forced the airline to extend it until May 15th. However, SriLankan Airlines has operated frequent repatriation flights to many countries, including India, UK, and Bangladesh. More trips like these will take place until normal operations resume.
SriLankan Airlines operates an all-Airbus fleet of 26 aircraft. Although none of its aircraft are dedicated for cargo purposes, the airline has enhanced the cargo-carrying capacity of a part of its fleet. The operator’s Airbus A320 and A330 aircraft will operate the following specified cargo routes:
All flights will depart and land at Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport.
- Europe: London and Frankfurt
- China: Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou
- Australia: Melbourne
- Far East: Singapore and Tokyo Narita
- Middle East: Doha and Dubai
- South Asia: Male, Dhaka, multiple cities in India
The airline will initially operate 27 flights a week, with scope for expansion in the next few months. Moreover, the airline’s state of art cargo facility at Colombo airport will be set up to handle all types of cargo. Some of the most crucial routes will be out of India, which has, for a long time, been SriLankan’s most crucial country market.
SriLankan Airlines has displayed selfless and responsible characteristics at a time when the country needs it the most. Describing the decision, Ashok added:
“SriLankan Airlines has always considered the nation’s interests foremost in every crisis situation during the past 40 years. We are keenly aware of our duty to support the Government of Sri Lanka and the nation as a whole, even at a time when our Company itself is facing a difficult situation.”
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