SriLankan Airlines has announced plans to resume outbound international flights to a handful of destinations this week. The flights come as Sri Lanka exits a lockdown, and demand for international flights begins rising. However, travel restrictions at the destination countries will mean only a small number of people will be able to travel on these flights. Let’s find out more.
SriLankan Airlines will resume some outbound passenger flights this week. Photo: John Taggart via Wikimedia Commons
Limited outbound services
SriLankan plans to fly to London Heathrow, Tokyo, Melbourne, and Hong Kong from its base in Colombo. All of these flights will be outbound only, meaning the planes will return without passengers from these cities. This measure is likely being taken to prevent any imported cases of the virus. Flights to London begin from today, with others starting in the coming week.
SriLankan is also planning 17 special cargo flights to support the country’s export industry, which is suffering due to the pandemic. The airline decided to carry passengers on some of these routes as well, as a way to help stranded foreigners and anyone who needs to travel. Cargo has become the primary source of income for most airlines around the world as low demand, and travel restrictions prevent passenger flights.
Virus fears slowly abate
SriLankan’s decision to allow outbound flight shows that demand for international flights is slowly returning. As the world moves towards easing lockdowns, we will see demand for international travel return as well. However, it is likely the demand for these flights will only be filled by foreigners and visa holders who seek to return to their country of work or residence.
While demand for international travel may return, border restrictions remain in place. SriLankan has emphasized that passengers must ensure that they meet the criteria to travel. The UK, Japan, Hong Kong, and Australia have all implemented strict quarantine measures for anyone returning from abroad. Additionally, Hong Kong and Australia have barred the entry of nonresidents, and Japan has done so for many countries. The UK is still permitting the entry of foreigners.
Recovery to remain slow
While SriLankan’s decision to resume flights is a positive sign, it also shows the long road to recovery ahead. As long as travel restrictions remain in place, all travel will be limited to essential reasons only. While this is important to prevent the spread of the virus, it also leaves airlines in a lurch as they struggle to generate revenues.
In the coming months, we could see countries adopt less strict measures, to save the tourism industry, and even come up with innovative solutions to keep people safe. Emirates, for example, recently began testing everyone for the coronavirus before letting them board a flight. While testing remains in acute shortage right now, we could see plans such as this in the future to promote travel once again.
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