By Sandun A Jayasekera
While admitting that the cost of bringing down Sri Lankans stranded in India to Sri Lanka on SriLankan aircraft under the prevailing situation could have been higher, the national carrier said yesterday but that it had quoted fares that were purely based on costs as against market-based fares.
Commenting on certain social media reports that the SriLankan had charged excessive fares to repatriate stranded Sri Lankan students from India to Sri Lanka, the airline said yesterday that the above-mentioned flight was specifically operated as a special flight, based on the request made by the students and their parents to the Sri Lankan Government.
The Government, together with other government departments, Airport and Aviation Services Ltd., armed forces, government medical agencies and the foreign ministry of Sri Lanka arranged for and enabled the repatriation flight with SriLankan airlines by obtaining necessary international governmental approvals as airports and airline operations have closed in most countries, ‘ the Sri Lankan said in a communiqué.
The above flight was a ferry flight out of Sri Lanka and departed India with an overall cabin factor of 50% or less.
“When operating to destinations that the airline does not currently fly to as in the case of Kathmandu, and Amritsar the operating cost such as landing / parking / ground handling etc are incurred at prevailing rates in the absence of service contracts with suppliers. As such these costs are relatively higher,” the airline stressed.