Sri Lankan Airlines to open direct flights to Beijing
BY OUR AVIATION CORRESPONDENT
12 June, 2005: Sri Lankan Airlines, the national carrier of Sri Lanka, will open direct flights from Beijing to Colombo from June 15 and thrice-a-week flights between the countries. This is a significant development, as this would be the first air-route between the two nations.
The flights would be operated on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday from Colombo to Beijing via Bangkok. Compared to earlier flights that transferred in Hong Kong, the flying hours have been shortened by three hours. This also reduces Sri Lanka- Maldives flying time, as it takes just 45 minutes to
fly out to the Maldives.
The carrier has also signed interline agreements with four airlines -- Air China, China Eastern, China Sourthern and Dragon Air -- that service 27 major cities throughout China.
Sri Lankan Airlines will be initially focusing on the huge family travel and leisure market from China to Sri Lanka and Maldives, as well as providing the Chinese traveller with connections to the Middle East and Europe.
"This is a market with 1.3 billion people, 50 million of whom already use air travel. With its domestic products growing 9.5 per cent year on year, this is the market for the future," Sri Lankan Airlines' Manager for China market Ajith Weerasekera said.
Sri Lanka hopes that the launch of services to Beijing will now add a modern cultural dialog to the strong diplomatic and trade relations the two countries already enjoy.
Sri Lankan Airlines will introduce a special package after launching the first flight. From June 15 to July 15, two and more passengers can enjoy a special price from Beijing to Bangkok for 1,988 yuan ($248) and to Colombo for 2,988 yuan ($373) and to 10 Indian cities for 3,088 yuan ($386).