Aeroflot pulls out
Aeroflot, Russian airline pulls out today, Martinair will follow suit at the end of the month and AOM French Airlines has already terminated their services to Colombo resulting in a total loss of about 1,500 seats per week, said Udaya Nanayakkara, President of the Travel Agents’ Association in Sri Lanka on Monday addressing the launch of the Tourist Board’s new logo and icon at the Mount Lavinia Hotel.
In addition, Saudi Airlines plans to deploy Boeing 777 aircraft, instead of the regular 747s, which are much bigger aircraft and Kuwait Airlines will reduce their number of flights from four to three in the near future further reducing the number of seats available for both inbound and outbound travel, he said.
"It’s an alarming situation and it’s a virtual impossibility to get a seat to Colombo", he added.
Mr. Nanayakkara said that Aeroflot, the Russian airline has been operating to Colombo for the last 40 years. It operated four flights a week to Colombo. The airline was planning to pull out due to certain restrictions imposed on it. By the time Sri Lankan authorities agreed to allow the airline to operate on the regular schedule, Aeroflot had already decided to halt its operations here in toto, he said.
"KLM Royal Dutch Airlines too signed off in similar circumstances," he added.
Mr. Nanayakkara pointed out that TAASL represented 250 travel and tour operators who handled almost 100 per cent of tourist arrivals. The first three months of this year showed very encouraging arrival figures which could have resulted in the arrival figure reaching over 400,000. "With the reductions in seat availability the industry now is not that confident about the expected figures for new tourist arrivals and our members are very disturbed over the emerging scenario," he said.