Sri Lankan exits skywards says Emirates

COLOMBO - SriLankan Airlines will be making an exit from Skywards, the loyalty programme for frequent fliers of Emirates and SriLankan Airlines, according Skywards’ February newsletter.

“The existing management agreement between Emirates and SriLankan Airlines expires on March 31, 2008, when the management control of SriLankan Airlines will revert to the Government of Sri Lanka. The termination of this arrangement will result in SriLankan Airlines ceasing to be part of the Skywards programme,” the newsletter says.

Chandana Desilva, SriLankan Airline’s head of corporate communication, also confirm this when contacted by TNS. “With the management contract between the two airlines being terminated on March 31 this year, we will not be Skywards partners with Emirates,” he said.

The Emirates newsletter further urged Skywards members to remain assured that their Skywards membership will continue even beyond the termination of SriLankan’s participation in the programme.

“We can confirm that SriLankan Airlines will cease to be part of the Skywards programme when the existing management agreement between Emirates and SriLankan Airlines expires on March 31, 2008. Until that date, Skywards members can continue to earn and redeem miles on both airlines as per the existing programme rules,” said an Emirates’ spokesperson.

“Existing members will continue to be a part of the programme, post SriLankan Airline’s departure. More information about changes in the Skywards programme will be communicated to our members soon,” he further said.

Meanwhile Emirates having valued its stake in SriLankan at about $150 million is still looking out for buyers, according to Emirates’ President Tim Clark. There have been talks about the Sri Lankan government buying that stake but no decision has been arrived at as yet.

Also the Gulf carrier Qatar Airways and two Indian airlines, Kingfisher Airlines and Jet Airways, are likely contenders to pick up a stake in SriLankan Airlines. Emirates’ President Tim Clark had said that his airline is open to the idea of selling in full or part its 43.6 per cent share in the airline for an estimated fair value of $150 million.

Sri Lankan spokesperson Chandana Desilva said Qatar Airways is a strong contender among the possible Gulf airlines. But Qatar Airways’ spokesperson, Salam Al Shawa, denied the report, saying: “The Doha-based carrier is not interested in picking up a stake in the airline.”

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