Tue, 19 Dec 2000

Sri Lankan Airlines resumes RI flights

JAKARTA (JP): Sri Lankan Airlines resumed flights to Jakarta on Monday after being suspended for about seven years, Sri Lankan manager for Indonesia Lakshman Weerasooriya said.

Weerasooriya said that the Sri Lankan flag carrier, previously known as Air Lanka, opened service to Jakarta in 1992 but had to stop a year later because of a shortage of aircraft.

In 1998 the airline received additional funding to expand its business from Emirates Airlines, which bought 40 percent of the company's shares, Weerasooriya said.

"We decided to resume flights to Jakarta because we see good potential between the two countries," he told The Jakarta Post, adding that besides Jakarta the airline had also expanded service to Australia, Stockholm, Dhaka, and Berlin.

In 1999, about 7,000 Indonesians came to Sri Lanka for business and leisure, Weerasooriya said, adding that some 8,000 Sri Lankans also traveled to Indonesia for similar purposes.

"The potential for cargo is also very good, especially garments from Indonesia and gems and tea from Sri Lanka," he said.

Sri Lankan will fly two direct flights a week between Jakarta and Colombo via Singapore, and two more flights a week under a codesharing scheme with Emirates, Weerasooriya said.

"So we are servicing the route four times a week," he said.

The airline also provides immediate connecting flights to India, the middle east, and Europe, Weerasooriya added.

He said that Sri Lankan planned to add more flights to three times a week in April next year using its own airplanes. (tnt)