Hard Times

May 10 (LBO) – Domestic airlines say soaring fuel costs may force a hike in ticket fares, but any increase may also scare away dwindling numbers of travellers to the North.

“We are in discussions to raise fares, but we are worried about the situation in the market. We are concerned that by raising fares we may lose the market altogether,” Shakthi Vikram, CEO of Aero Lanka told LBO on Wednesday.

Fuel costs are up US$200 on a single trip to Jaffna to US$1450 from a month ago. Local operators have already cut flights from twice daily to once a day.

But domestic operator Aero Lanka says now may not be the time to slap on a fuel surcharge, given current market conditions.

An outbreak of violence between Tamil Tiger rebels and the Sri Lankan government over the past few weeks is taking its toll on internal travel to the North of the country.

Sri Lanka has two domestic operators Aero Lanka and Expo Aviation that fly to Jaffna in the North.

Passenger loads to Jaffna have dropped 15-20 percent over the past few weeks, with people only travelling for urgent reasons like funerals.

Earlier we had requests for flights, but now people travel onl