Sri Lanka’s budget airline grounded by… lack of planes


COLOMBO — Sri Lanka’s state-run budget carrier has suspended operations indefinitely because of a lack of planes, an aviation official said Sunday.

The budget airline, Mihin Lanka, has been dogged with financial trouble since it began commercial operations last April.

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“They (Mihin) don’t have an aircraft to fly passengers since the beginning of this month,” Sri Lanka’s civil aviation chief, Parakrama Dissanayake told AFP.

Mihin’s last aircraft, an Airbus A321 taken on lease, was reclaimed by its Bulgarian owners at the end of April, as the airline was unable to make payments, an airline industry source, who declined to be named, said.

“Passengers booked to travel are now being transferred to other airlines until Mihin finds another aircraft,” Dissanayake said.

The cash-strapped airline, which began with a working capital of five million dollars, had scheduled services to the cities of Trivandrum, Tiruchirapalli in India, Dubai, Male, Bangkok and Singapore.

Officials at the airline’s call centre said they hoped to resume services in June. “All schedule flights for May have been temporarily suspended for technical reasons. We may start in June,” an official said.

Sri Lanka’s national carrier SriLankan Airlines is partly owned by Dubai’s Emirates Airlines.