Sri Lanka flights filling up: Etihad Airways

(From left) Dharmasri Kumaratunga, Director - Payments and Settlements, Central Bank; Nanda Fernando, Managing Director, Sampath Bank; and Tharaka Ranwala, Head of Operations and Group Chief Marketing Officer, Sampath Bank

Jan 14, 2009 (LBO) – Abu Dhabi based Etihad Airways is seeing growth in traffic after it resumed services to Colombo with tourist arrivals also expected to pick after a 30-year war ended in the island, officials said. The airline is also banking on an upturn in tourist traffic after a 30-year war ended last May.

“The market stability has returned,” Parkes said “Travel to and from Sri Lanka would be very much of a growth market in the future years.”

In December arrivals were up 16.2 percent to 56,862. Arrivals peaks during the Western European winter.

De Silva says forecasts were looking healthy though the peak season is wearing off.

“We plan to work closely with the ministry of tourism to join promotions and the other initiatives to further enhance traffic from existing markets and stimulate incremental traffic from new markets in the future,” he said.

The airline says it is experiencing 60 percent load factors since re-starting operations on January 01.

“We hope to increase it by 10 to 15 percent in the coming few months,” Kumar De Silva, Country Manager for Sri Lanka and Maldives said.

It stopped flying to Sri Lanka in September 2007 and was code sharing SriLankan airlines. Off