Sri Lanka flights by Thai AirAsia slashed

June 09, 2012 (LBO) – Thai AirAsia (TAA) has cut its newly launched flights to Sri Lanka to three a week from June following lower than expected demand on the Colombo Bangkok route, a media report said. But Sri Lanka is now attracting more tourists after the end of a 30-year war. TAA chief executive Tassapon Bijleveld was quoted by the Bangkok Post newspaper as saying the carrier will add more frequencies on other routes with stronger demand.

Malaysia-based AirAsia already flies to Colombo offering a higher fare.

Though fares are cheaper to Bangkok, higher visa fees for Sri Lankans make Bangkok a less attractive hub to enter the point-to-point carriers’ network.

A double entry visa to Thailand costs as much as 70 US dollars compared to a less than 5 dollars to Malaysia.

The budget airline started the flights in March just as Sri Lanka’s currency fell from around 113 to 130 rupees to the US dollar following sustained sterilized foreign exchange sales by the Central Bank.

Exchange rate depreciation cuts real wages of salary earners and also destroys lifetime savings, impoverishing people.