Aeroflot to fly to Colombo again
With the steep rise in the tourist arrivals and Sri Lanka becoming one of the prominent tourist havens in Asia, many airlines have geared to extend their wings to Sri Lanka. Ukraine’s largest airline AeroSvit, which flies to 72 destinations including China, India, Thailand, Canada and the U.S.A, started its services to Sri Lanka from yesterday. The first flight a Boeing 767 arrived with 214 passengers in its maiden flight to Colombo.
Russian Air Company, Aeroflot intends to recommence its regular flights from Moscow to Colombo from November 2nd. Sri Lanka's Russian Ambassador Vladimir P Mikhaylov said the launching of Aeroflot flights to Sri Lanka will establish favorable conditions for passenger and cargo operations between the two countries and Russia is committed to further strengthen the bilateral trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.
"Significant growth of Russian tourists visiting Sri Lanka is visible in the recent past. In 2010, it was about 18,000, which is three times higher than in 2006.
During the first eight months of 2011, the number increased 28% in comparison with the same period of 2010. The tendency will remain with the launch of Sri Lankan Airlines service to Moscow and Aeroflot airlines service to be launched in November," Mikhaylov said.
In addition, the Russian private sector considers the possibility of investing in infrastructure, highways, railway and irrigation systems.
More Russian businessmen visit Colombo now for various intentional exhibitions being held here and Sri Lankan businessmen who visit trade and industry exhibitions and trade fairs in Russia has also grown.
"As for the bilateral trade, its volume is not too big. In 2010, bilateral trade between Russia and Sri Lanka recorded 145.2 % growth to US $ 423 million, of which US $ 308.5 million being the Sri Lankan export to Russia and US $ 114.5 million Russian exports to Sri Lanka.
However, it is a timely need for Lankan companies to make concrete commercial proposals in a bid attract potential Russian companies to Sri Lanka, However, despite the global economic recession, trade between our countries could grow significantly by means of high technology items to Sri Lanka," Mikhaylov said.
This airline will be operating three flights per week to Colombo from Boryspil Airport in Kiev to arrive in Colombo on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.
The Head of the Kiev Airport Mr. Slava Obolenski who also arrived in the maiden flight yesterday said that the main reason for starting this air service was that there is a huge demand from Ukraine nationals to visit Sri Lanka as tourists. He said that AeroSvit has air links with 33 countries and this new service will cater to tourists visiting Sri Lanka from North America, Europe and the Middle East countries.
Meanwhile the Sri Lanka Tourist Development Authority said that there is steep inflow of tourists from Ukraine and last year 5700 tourists from Ukraine arrived in Sri Lanka and up to end of September this year the arrival of Ukraine tourists have reached over 5100 and this could reach to about or over 8,000 by the end of this year.
The Russian Airline Aeroflot, the flag carrier of Russia, which has a domestic and international air services covering a network of 97 cities in 48 countries is also to restart its flights to Colombo from 2nd November. Aeroflot is one of the oldest airlines in the world tracing its history back to 1923. The Russian Ambassador in Sri Lanka Mr. Vladimir Mikhaylov commenting on the restart of the Aeroflot flights said that there is a significant growth of Russian tourist visiting Sri Lanka in the recent past and the new service will establish favorable conditions for passenger and cargo operations between the two countries. 18,000 Russian tourists visited Sri Lanka last year and for the eight months from January, this number has been increased by 28 percent to over 23,000. With the recommencement of the Aeroflot service this number is expected to increase tremendously by the end of this year.
Meanwhile, Malaysia’s budget airline Air Asia is expected to commence direct flights from Bangkok to Colombo at the beginning of next year. This service will be named as Thai Air Asia and it will be operated by a joint venture formed between Malaysian budget Airline – Air Asia and Thailand’s budget airline – Asia Aviation. This budget airline service, the fare of which will be at least 30 percent less than the normal fare will operate two flights per week to Colombo,
In the meantime, tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka by end of September have exceeded 598,000 registering a 34 per cent increase over the same period last year. As per the data released by the Sri Lanka Tourist Development Authority the number of tourists arrived last month has amounted to 60,219 and of which over 19,000 has been from the Western Europe. Visitors from South Asia have increased by 51 percent to 18,422 and arrival from East Asia has increased by 64 percent to 68,518. This includes 15,079 from Japan and 12,790 tourists from China. The Tourist Authority said that visitors from Australia also increased by 25 per cent to 29,835 last months. It said that arrival of French tourists also increased by 46 percent 36,124.