Sri Lanka air force launches commercial flights

July 21, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s air force has started domestic commercial flights using aircraft freed from regular transport missions to support government troops with the end of the war against Tamil Tigers. Regular commercial flights to Jaffna began after the Tigers cut off the land route to the peninsula and are still in demand today given the difficulties and long time to go by road.

SLAF officials said an air force Bell-206 four-seater helicopter can be hired for 955 dollars an hour, a Bell-412 eighter seater for 2,334 dollars an hour, and the larger Mi-17 which can take about a dozen passengers for 2,830 dollars an hour.

A 15-seate Y-12 light transport fixed wing aircraft can be chartered for 1,029 dollars an hour. Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) officials said charter flights are on offer to tourist destinations and other towns in the island using helicopters and light fixed-wing transport aircraft.

No decision had yet been taken on scheduled flights.

They said the services will be provided through the air force’s ‘Helitours’ commercial flight unit from Ratmalana, an airbase south of Colombo, and from Katunayake, the international airport north of the capital.

Sri Lanka’s domestic a