03 passengers take the inaugural flight to Sri Lanka
The inaugural flight of SriLankan Airlines from Visakhapatnam to Colombo was flagged off by Union Minister of Civil Aviation P. Ashok Gajapathi Raju at Visakhapatnam International Airport here on Saturday.
The new flight leaves Colombo at 7.10 a.m. (local time) and arrives in Visakhapatnam at 9.10 a.m. (local time).
It leaves Vizag at 10.10 a.m. and reaches Colombo at 12.15 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Mr. Raju recalled the cultural ties between India and Sri Lanka. At present, Visakhapatnam has flights to Dubai, Singapore and Malaysia respectively by Air India, SilkAir, and AirAsia.
A total of 103 passengers, including 10 in the business class, travelled on the inaugural flight from Vizag. “The capacity of the flight is 150 (138 economy and 12 business class) and the response to the inaugural flight was very encouraging,” Chief Commercial Officer of SriLankan Airlines Siva Ramachandran told the media later. The export of cargo from Vizag to Sri Lanka increased during the last three years. The A320neo and A321neo aircraft could carry cargo weighing between 1 to 1.5 tonnes, depending on the passenger load.
Visakhapatnam was the 12th destination to India by SriLankan Airlines. The flights to Hyderabad, which were withdrawn in the past, would be revived from July 12 and Coimbatore would become the airline’s 14th destination to India from July 16.
Replying to queries, Mr. Ramachandran said that a Passenger Load Factor of over 75% was required for healthy operations of any airline. The immense tourist potential of Vizag and neighbouring districts and the Buddhist heritage sites in Visakhapatnam and Amaravathi would be a big draw for tourists from Sri Lanka, he opined. There was also a growth of young tourists from India to Sri Lanka to visit the tourist hotspots and casinos in the island nation.