Sri Lanka’s national carrier SriLankan launches weekly flights to Nairobi
National carrier of Sri Lanka, SriLankan Airlines, which is a member of the prestigious oneworld alliance, has reportedly announced that it would commence flight operations to Nairobi in Kenya, which will be its second destination in East Africa after flying to the Seychelles.
Scheduled flights had commenced on Wednesday (22) between Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO), East Africa’s largest and busiest airport.
According to a statement, SriLankan Airlines would commence its flights to Nairobi every Thursday using an Airbus A330 configured for 269 economy and 28 business class seats. The frequency of operation will be once a week.
Flight UL1715 will depart Colombo at 10:45 hrs., landing at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 14:40 hrs., with the return leg UL1716 leaving Nairobi at 04:40 hrs., and landing back into Colombo at 13:55 hrs.
SriLankan Airlines Chairman Ashok Pathirage has been quoted as saying, “We are delighted to be launching flights to the capital of Kenya, as SriLankan Airlines expands to the African region. We hope to see many people visit Kenya and explore the world’s stunning wildlife by offering seamless connectivity through its global route network in addition to establishing a strong presence in Kenya.”
Demand for transport to and from Nairobi has increased dramatically as a business and leisure hub for East and Central Africa. Nairobi is located strategically with land and air connections to a wider catchment area: Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Malawi, Zambia and Madagascar. Home to many safari and national parks, some famous tourist destinations include Maasai Mara National Reserve – Kenya, Serengeti National Park and Zanzibar – Tanzania, local news reports noted.
“This new route will allow SriLankan Airlines to tap into sizeable traffic flows from East Africa to ISC, China, Far East and Australia. We expect to see strong loads to China and India, though the schedule allows connectivity to key destinations across the route network,” CEO Vipula Gunatilleka has been quoted as saying.
According to reports, SriLankan Airlines’ hub, the Bandaranaike International Airport, offers a modern, convenient, and comfortable transit to connect to flights across the airline’s worldwide network from the Indian Subcontinent, Far East and Australasia, with many key destinations having multiple departures. The flight will also provide additional cargo capacity on the route for Kenya’s main export products, as well as key imports.
Head of Cargo Chamara Ranasinghe has said, “The commencement of scheduled operations into Nairobi, Kenya is an exciting ideal in expanding SriLankan Airlines operations into Africa and is forecast to be a significant cargo route in capitalising on the key trade lanes in connectivity to the present network, primarily to and from the Far East and India.
“The destination will also act as a gateway in connecting other main African hubs, thereby expanding the reach for SriLankan Cargo customers at unprecedented levels as the airline looks forward to strengthening its presence in the region towards the future.”
The government of Sri Lanka is committed to developing its airport and aviation sectors to become a business hub in the South Asian region. Sri Lanka’s geographical positioning in the Indian ocean and the many trade agreements as well as trade concessions enjoyed by the country have made Sri Lanka a hotspot for business/investment opportunities in the South Asian region. It is in this backdrop that Sri Lanka’s national carrier has commenced weekly flights to a new destination in the African continent in a bid to open the country’s opportunities to a new market segment. Businesses/investors in the African continent could therefore explore business/trade/investment and tourism opportunities in Sri Lanka.
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