SriLankan Airlines, the national carrier of Sri Lanka and the newest member of the oneworld alliance, in a move to meet the increasing demands for air services between China and Sri Lanka will soon be operating scheduled charter flights to Sichuan province, China. Starting from July 1, 2014, SriLankan will be operating a weekly flight to Chongqing from Colombo, returning via Bangkok. The signing of the agreement between Chongqing Huapont International Travel Service Co. Ltd. and SriLankan Airlines was held today (May 8, 2014) in Colombo.
The national carrier currently operates a total of 15 weekly flights to Beijing, Shanghai, Canton and Hong Kong and with this initiative, will be marking its presence in the South-western China as well.
SriLankan Airlines, Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Kapila Chandrasena said, “Having identified China as one of our key markets, we are constantly looking for new avenues to expand our operations in the region through increasing frequencies and introducing new destinations. With the introduction of charter flights to Chongqing, we will be catering to a new segment of passengers who will no doubt, enjoy convenient and hassle-free travel with a touch of traditional Sri Lankan hospitality.”
SriLankan Airlines, Chief Marketing Officer, Mr. G.T. Jeyaseelan said, “After Beijing, Shanghai and Guan Zhou, where we have already made our mark, we have identified Sichuan province as a potential market in the mainland China. This comes into being after various evaluations we have carried out, and many tourism promotional activities conducted in the region by the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotional Bureau. We are of the opinion that operating a scheduled charter flight is a good way of testing the waters before starting scheduled operations.”
Chongqing Huapont International Travel Service Co. Ltd., established in July, 2002, is owned by Huapont-nutrichem Co. Ltd. which is listed on Shenzhen Stock exchange. Their business in tourism sector covers tourism sites development & management, hotels & resorts, inbound & outbound travels etc.
Iris Huang, Manager of International Department, commented “I was impressed by the beauty and hospitality of Sri Lanka during my visit first, this Charter initiative, out from Chongqing to Sri Lanka together with SriLankan Airlines and our local partner Walkers Tours is definitely going to create a good connection between Chongqing, as well as South-Western China to this destination. ”
Walkers Tours will exclusively represent Chongqing Huapont International Travel Service Co. Ltd. in Sri Lanka. Mr. Vasantha Leelananda, EVP, Head – Destination Management Sector, John Keells Group stated, “We are delighted to associate ourselves with Sri Lankan Airlines and Chongqing Huapont International Travel Service Co. Ltd. to promote Sri Lanka from South West China. This will give us an opportunity to open a new hub out of Chongqing and we thank Sri Lankan Airlines for the cooperation extended and our partner in China for having confidence in the destination. This is the first time that a regular weekly service on a charter basis has been undertaken by an operator with Sri Lankan Airlines and it is a very exciting project”.
The flight is scheduled to depart Colombo at 0130 hrs to arrive in Chongqing at 0915 hrs local time. It will leave Chongqing at 1030 hrs to arrive in Colombo via Bangkok at 1605 hrs. The flight will be available from July 1, to November 25, 2014 and resume operations on January 13, 2015. Passengers will also get the opportunity to enjoy the relaxing ambience and easy reclining seating on board SriLankan Airlines’ A320 aircraft that will be operated on the route.
In April this year, SriLankan Airlines started operating eight direct flights a week to Beijing and Shanghai and out of which four flights depart from the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport. Additionally, the Airline has operated charter flights to Kunming and Chengdu in the past; making this its third sequel of charter operations to China.