SriLankan Airlines expands

SriLankan Airlines is fast turning Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) into into a hub for air travel, steadily increasing the number of passengers in transit through the airport.

Three years ago, only 28% of passengers carried by SriLankan through Colombo’s BIA were in transit - a little over a quarter. The bulk of travellers were tourists visiting Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans returning from overseas.

Today, the number of transit passengers has more than doubled, and the total number of passengers carried by the airline has increased by a third. Nearly half of its traffic (46%) is now transit passengers, a number that is continuously increasing.

Peter Hill, CEO of SriLankan, said: “We at SriLankan take great pride in offering rapid connectivity to travellers through Colombo, in order to maximise convenience. We actively work towards minimising waiting periods which we know is one of the most annoying aspects of international air travel.”

The rise in transit passengers has been as steady as it has been impressive, from 28% in 2003/04 to 36% the next year, 42% in 2005/06, to the current 46%.

Transit numbers remained steady at 46% during the six-month period between April and September 2007, despite flight schedules being disrupted for several months due to a temporary night-time closure of BIA. With the airport now back to its 24-hour operation, the number is expected to increase.

Manoj Gunawardena, Head of Worldwide Passenger Sales, said: “We offer passengers a one-stop option for travel between regions as far apart as Europe and the Far East. Our flight arrival and departure banks are constantly being improved to reduce long transit times. However BIA is perhaps the best airport in the region to spend time if a passenger has to.”

With SriLankan Airlines having positioned Colombo as the Gateway to India, a large proportion of transit passengers are flying to and from the 11 cities that the airline serves there. SriLankan last year became the first foreign carrier to operate 100 weekly flights to India. The airline’s route network now serves 54 cities in 28 countries.

But an increasing number of travellers are using Colombo from other regions. These include Middle Eastern travellers on vacation en route to the Far East; Europeans travelling to the Maldives and Thailand; and Japanese heading for the Maldives.

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