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SriLankan Airlines scores a century

“100 not out”

Dec 03, 2007

NEW DELHI (TVLW): With the addition of another weekly flight to its existing services to Trichy on Tuesday, SriLankan Airlines has become the first foreign airline to operate 100 flights per week to India.

This was announced by the airline’s Chief Executive Officer Peter Hill here earlier this week.

“Since both India and Sri Lanka are cricket-loving nations, I would say that we are 100 not out. We are going to go forward and expand our network even more. In the next couple of years we want to be 150 not out. We recognised very early the important role that India plays in this part of the world and we have been steadily increasing the number of flights and the cities that we serve,” said Mr. Hill.

“Ever since the skies were liberalised in 2002, we have been covering 11 destinations in India. We cover not just big metros but also serve the lesser known but important tourist destinations like Goa,” he added.

Sharing the airline’s future plans with the media, Mr. Hill said: “Firstly, we want the management contract to be signed as a new agreement needs to be put together. In the next five years we want our fleet to increase. At present, we have 14 aircraft and we want it to double. We want to have 30 aircraft by 2013.”

The growing fleet would give the airline opportunities in China and Africa and increase the number of flights coming to India, he claimed.

Highlighting the country’s significance to Sri Lanka, Head of Worldwide Passenger Sales Manoj Gunawardena said: “One-third of our business starts and ends in India. We serve five metros except Kolkata. We are marketing India as a tourism destination for which we have an extensive marketing campaign.”

Talking about the airline’s strategy for India, Mr. Gunawardena pointed out: “We are investing in India as a destination. We have the option of exploring 15 other tier-2 cities. Kolkata is also in our planning horizon.”

Another airline official announced that for the next 100 days beginning this past Tuesday every 100th person availing of the Sri Lankan holiday package would get it free of cost till March next year.

Ahead of the upcoming fog season SriLankan Airlines will advance their flights to avoid any delays due to fogs.

“From December 15 to January 30, we will advance the Delhi-Colombo flight operating on Mondays, Fridays and Sundays from 22-30 to 19-35 so that we do not have our passengers stranded at the airport,” said Manager North India Sharuka Wickrama-Adittiya.

On the issue of extension of the 10-year contract (up to 2008) of Emirates Airline that manages the Sri Lankan national carrier, the CEO said he believed that the agreement needed “adjusting”.

“The negotiations between the Sri Lankan Government and Emirates for further extension of the contract are going on. Emirates has a 43 ½ per cent of investment in the airline. We need to renegotiate the agreement in a way that is satisfactory to both the sides. We will be meeting in January to discuss the same,” Mr. Hill added.

“100 not out”

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