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Major expansion of India flights for SriLankan Airlines

Travel News Asia 1 December 2003

SriLankan Airlines is adding new flights to Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Trichy between December 1, 2003 and February 28, 2004 under the Indian open skies policy that will prevail during this period.

From December 1, weekly services to Delhi will increase from six to seven, to Mumbai and Trichy from five to six, and to Bangalore from four to five. From December 15, SriLankan will operate daily to Mumbai and Trichy and offer six flights each week to Bangalore. From December 16, 2003 to February 17, 2004 two more flights to Chennai will be added each week, raising weekly services to 17.

SriLankan serves eight cities in India at present, the highest to any country on its route network. Apart from the cities mentioned above, its other Indian destinations are Gaya, Trivandrum and Cochin. Presently SriLankan offers a total of 45 services each week to India.

SriLankan is considering leasing two more Airbus A320s to join its fleet of five A340s, four A330s and three A320s. The A320 is deployed on routes to the Indian sub-continent and Male.

Says SriLankans Head of Commercial: The limited open skies policy gives us the opportunity to better serve the Indian population. Last year visitors from India to Sri Lanka comprised the largest number of visitors from any one country to the island. Indians are increasingly finding Sri Lanka to be a value-for-money destination. The expansion of services to India will tremendously increase the number of Indian visitors to Sri Lanka.

SriLankan recently leased two A340s to expand its services to Europe and the Far East. In 2004, the airline plans to launch services to Rome and Beijing.

Another first for SriLankan Airlines is the launch of air taxi operations from the international airport in Sri Lanka (at Katunayake) to major tourist destinations within the island like Galle, Bentota, Kandy and Dambulla in December. SriLankan will use the amphibious Cessna Caravan floatplane for this operation which will reduce travel time from four to six hours to a 30-minute ride. Once established more destinations will be added to the air taxi service. High-spending individual travellers are expected to find the air taxi services invaluable.

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