At a time when most foreign airlines are closing shop in Pakistan, the national carrier of Sri Lanka has vowed to expand its operations if it’s given the chance.
We have approval to operate to Islamabad and Lahore but we are looking at more routes than just the two, said SriLankan Airlines Chief Marketing Officer GT Jeyaseelan while speaking at the inauguration of its new office.
“We are a small airline but our expansion plans are big and that all depends on the approval and the development in the next few months,” Jeyaseelan added.
SriLankan Airlines started operations in 1980 with three weekly flights to Pakistan and have expanded its frequency to a daily flight from Karachi to Colombo.
Malaysia Airlines ceased its operations from Pakistan earlier this year as part of its Business Plan announced in December last year, to stem its losses anticipated in 2011 and 2012.
“The relationship that we have started today will be the foundation for that”, he said adding “we believe it would not take more that three to six months’ time.
Airlines officials invited Pakistan International Airlines to operate flights to Colombo. PIA had stopped flying planes between the route a few years ago.
“We are looking to enhance cooperation between SriLankan Airlines and the PIA,” said Jeyaseelan.
“We will be more than happy to invite them to jointly operate between Karachi and Colombo,” said Jeyaseelan.
Even if we start operations beyond Pakistan to any other country we would be pleased to work with PIA. Airlines tend to collaborate on long flights which involves a route on of the two don’t operate.
The airline flies to 60 destinations in 33 countries in Europe, the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Far East, North America and Australia.
Sri Lanka and Pakistan are two close, friendly neighbours,” Jeyaseelan remarked.
The airline also announced the appointment of TCB Aviation as its general sales agent.
Typically, the GSA is responsible for selling all products of the airline including flight tickets and cargo space. Airlines normally use a GSA in areas that it does not operate to or from, allowing them to have a sales presence in a country at lower cost than opening their own offices, according to Wikipedia.
“We look forward to a new era in operations in Pakistan with the appointment of TCB Aviation,” said SriLankan Airline Head of Worldwide Sales Lal Perera. Perera pinned hopes of its airlines growing following its partnership.
Ali Majid, CEO of TCB Aviation, predicted a bright future for the SriLankan-TCB partnership.
Earlier, a traditional oil lamp ceremony took place at the brand new office of SriLankan Airlines on Friday morning. Ayaz Soomro, Sindh Law Minister, was the chief guest at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Also present at the well-attended event were senior SriLankan Airlines officials Lal Perera, Lalith De Silva and a number of bank presidents.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 7th, 2012.