Sri Lankaâ€™s National Carrier SriLankan Airlines is making a decisive move to rescue the countryâ€™s much troubled export industries by launching dedicated cargo services to a host of destinations and throwing a lifeline to the nationâ€™s economy at a time of gravest peril.
Ashok Pathirage, Chairman of SriLankan Airlines said: â€œSriLankan Airlines has always considered the nationâ€™s interests foremost in every crisis situation during the past 40 years. We are keenly aware of our duty to support the Government of Sri Lanka and the nation as a whole, even at a time when our Company itself is facing a difficult situation.â€
â€œWe have no doubt that every single export industry will benefit from this bold initiative that we plan to launch on May 18th, at a time when most other airlines are keeping their fleets grounded and global trade by air is under a lockdown situation. The Government is extremely keen on restarting the countryâ€™s export industries at the earliest possible moment, and we at SriLankan Airlines have been intent on restarting our services from the day that we reluctantly suspended regular operations in the face of the global pandemic,â€ said Mr. Pathirage.
This reminder of the important role that a national carrier must play during a time of crisis comes during the global airline industryâ€™s gravest period, when airlines around the world are staring at bankruptcy and laying off thousands of employees.
Accordingly SriLankan will commence 27 dedicated cargo flights per week out of Colombo that will connect Sri Lanka with major cities in Europe, the Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent and the Far East. Destinations include London and Frankfurt in Europe; the Chinese cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou (Canton); Melbourne in Australia; Singapore and Tokyo (Narita) in the Far East; Doha and Dubai in the Middle East; and in South Asia the Maldivian capital Male, the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka and several cities in India where SriLankan has for many years been the largest foreign carrier.
These dedicated cargo flights will be a vital link for local exporters to take their produce to new and existing international markets and will also enable the importation of much needed raw materials required for the production of export goods. This includes the apparel industry, which has long been one of the cornerstones of the nationâ€™s economy.
The airlineâ€™s existing fleet of Airbus A320 and A330 aircraft will be utilized for these flights and SriLankan has enhanced the cargo carrying capacity of the aircraft beyond the usual capacity of the cargo holds.
SriLankan Airlines is also the sole handler of all ground services at the countryâ€™s international airports, including cargo. It has a state of the art cargo warehousing complex at Bandaranaike International Airport that handles all types of cargo, ranging from raw materials, dangerous goods, courier items, mail, live cargo and valuable cargo. Sri Lankaâ€™s award-winning carrier is a member of the oneworld global airline alliance.