Flying Free

Oct 09, 2006 (LBO) – Sri Lanka and India opened talks on Monday to free up air services between the countries, ahead of Colombo designating new carriers to fly international routes. Sri Lanka has about 59 bilateral agreements with different countries, though its uses just about 19 of them. “We are basically asking for more opportunities into India. We want flights to be liberalised to metropolitan cities,” H M C Nimalsiri, Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority, told LBO.

Flights to India’s metropolitan cities like Chennai, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Calcutta and Bangalore are currently restricted to about seven flights a week for a Sri Lankan registered carrier.

All frequencies to the money-spinning metropolitan cities have been snapped up by national carrier SriLankan Airlines, with potential new entrants into Sri Lanka’s aviation industry now lobbying for access.

Sri Lanka is in the process of selecting one or two more domestic carriers possibly a budget carrier to operate alongside SriLankan Airlines.

SriLankan is also the largest foreign carrier operating into India, flying to about nine destinations – New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Trichy, Trivandrum, C