Mosquito Bite

Air fares to hot spots like Middle East and London are bottoming out, putting pressure on full fledge carriers, but newbie Etihad Airways says there is still room for all to survive in a friendly manner. Air fares to hot spots like Middle East and London are bottoming out, putting pressure on full fledge carriers, but newbie Etihad Airways says there is still room for all to survive in a friendly manner. Abu Dhabi-based Etihad’s Sri Lankan operation banks heavily on labour traffic to drive its business. The airline, which offered steep discounts during its start up year, is now up against budget carriers like Air Arabia.

“But there is room, we still see potential in this market,” says Kumar de Silva, Etihad’s Area Manager for Sri Lanka/Maldives.

Etihad is the third airline to fly out of the UAE, after Emirates and no-frills flier Air Arabia. Gulf Air, succumbed to stiff competition and soaring oil prices, and said on Monday that it will pull out of Colombo end March.

But de Silva says Etihad has bucked the trend in its first year of operation in Sri Lanka, with Colombo featuring in the top 10 (out of 17 destinations).

Middle East carriers are also cashing on tourism market, offering kn