Airlines suspend Sri Lanka flights after rebel air strike

COLOMBO, April 29, 2007 (AFP) – Emirates Airlines and Hong Kong’s flag carrier Cathay Pacific on Sunday suspended flights to Sri Lanka following a rebel air strike around the troubled island’s capital. “For Emirates, the safety of its passengers is of paramount importance,” a spokesman for the Dubai-based carrier said, adding that the situation would be reviewed within a day.

Emirates operated scheduled flights from Dubai to the Maldives, Singapore and Indonesia through the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo.

However, the airline plans to operate a relief flight for any stranded passengers.

Hong Kong’s flag carrier Cathay Pacific suspended flights to Sri Lanka’s international airport indefinitely, it said in a statement Sunday.

Planes manned by Tamil Tiger rebels struck fuel depots around Sri Lanka’s capital early Sunday, briefly plunging Colombo into darkness. Security forces lit up the night sky with anti-aircraft fire.

The island’s only international airport, located near the capital, diverted flights after rebel aircraft were spotted in its air space.

Flights were disrupted by air defence systems, officials said, adding that one Indian jet was turned back and several departi