Opportunity Sri Lanka | » Rise in foreign travel prompts Cathay Pacific to resume direct flights to Sri Lanka after 4 years
Rise in foreign travel prompts Cathay Pacific to resume direct flights to Sri Lanka after 4 years

Rise in foreign travel prompts Cathay Pacific to resume direct flights to Sri Lanka after 4 years

Daily FT: After a four-year hiatus Cathay Pacific has resumed direct flights between Hong Kong and Colombo encouraged by an upturn in tourist and business travel.
Deploying an Airbus A330-300 that offers 28 fully flat beds in Business class and 265 spacious seats in Economy, Cathay will initially fly thrice a week with departure from Colombo on Fridays, Sundays and Wednesdays.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily FT, the Cathay Pacific Sri Lanka and the Maldives Country Lead Harish Kiran said following the opening of Hong Kong early last year, Colombo is the sixth destination for Cathay Pacific to resume services within South Asia, Middle East and Africa.
Other destinations that went online earlier were Dubai, Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangalore and Johannesburg. It restored thrice a week services to Chennai yesterday.
“Tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka are on an upward trend with the country having attracted 1.48 million visitors last year. Being a key destination for Cathay, resumption of services to Colombo was an obvious choice,” Kiran said, adding that Hong Kong too is seeing an uptick in arrivals.
“We see positive traction both ways and the advance load factor looks very healthy,” Kiran revealed. He commended Sri Lanka’s decision to offer free-visa travel to some of the major tourist-generating markets.
The resumption of flights by Cathay that has served Sri Lanka over 30 years as well as opening up onward connections from Hong Kong to Asia including mainland China, Korea and Japan and Australia, the Southwest Pacific and North America will be good news for both business and leisure travellers. Until recently, there were no direct flights between Colombo and Hong Kong, with national carrier SriLankan too opting out. Cathay is a founder member of oneworld alliance that includes SriLankan Airlines and 12 other top airlines and 26 affiliate airlines.
As part of the re-launch, Cathay is also promoting special fares for students travelling from Colombo to Sydney, Auckland, Singapore, Tokyo, and Kuala Lumpur.
Identifying itself as a premium travel lifestyle brand Cathay Pacific described the resumption of services to Colombo as embarking on a new chapter of connectivity, convenience, and customer satisfaction.
The resumption comes at an opportune time with Hong Kong gearing up for the iconic Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens in early April 2024. The airline said a rebound is underway across markets including the Chinese Mainland and Japan signalling an uptick in regional corporate and group travel in the months ahead.
Cathay Pacific’s award-winning inflight entertainment got a big boost in December by being the first airline in Asia Pacific to bring Disney+ original titles to the skies. Cathay Pacific was awarded the World’s Best Inflight Entertainment Award for 2023 at the SKYTRAX World Airline Awards. Cathay also said through meticulous collaboration with partners, it strives to provide exceptional dining experiences with high attention to detail and options that cater to individual needs and preferences.
The service also offers around 15-25 tons of cargo, a segment that Cathay has been serving successfully via special freighter services during the four-year passenger off-line period starting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kiran said Cathay at present serves over 80 destinations having restored 70% of the schedules by end of last year. “We will reach about 85 to 90% by the end of 2024 before reverting to pre-COVID capacity next year.
He is of the view that the worst is over for the airline industry with global tourism bouncing back. The airline carried 1.8 million passengers in December 2023, an increase of 122.1% compared with December 2022. In the full year of 2023, the number of passengers carried increased by 541.5% against a 326.8% increase in ASKs and a 396.8% increase in RPKs, as compared with 2022.
Cathay Pacific described support for resumption of direct flights from the Sri Lankan authorities as “fantastic” and Kiran who has been in Sri Lanka for four years, commended recent progressive automation and digitisation at the Bandaranaike International Airport as well as enhanced ease of use.

OSL take:
The steady growth in the number of foreign travelers to the country has resulted in an increase in the number of flights operated to Sri Lanka. It is in such a backdrop that some international airlines that had earlier suspended flights to Sri Lanka have now recommenced flights to the country. All these movements have resulted in the expansion of Sri Lanka’s airport, aviation and tourism industries. Hence, there are a host of new business/investment opportunities covering the industries of airport, aviation and tourism. These opportunities include the development of infrastructure and supplementary infrastructure facilities required by these respective industries to meet the growing demand in these fields. There are also more business/investment opportunities specific to each of the industries. With Sri Lanka on the path to becoming an emerging business destination in the South Asian region and a steady growth being posted in all key economic sectors, foreign businesses/investors could confidently explore the expanding opportunities in the country.

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Article Code : VBS/AT/20240215/Z_3

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