Domestic airline and helicopter operator Deccan Aviation was first to formally announce the establishment of the first privately run city helipad at the Colts Cricket Grounds on Havelock Road, following the relaxation on stringent security restrictions on civil flights over the capital city.
The government has recently given approval for private helicopter operators to conduct flights into the city of Colombo.
With tight security imposed on the capital city during the war, helicopter flights into Colombo was strictly limited to those operated by the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF).
The recent relaxation of the rules is seen as an effort to ensure a level playing field between the commercial arm of the SLAF and other helicopter operators.
The Civil Aviation Authority in consultation with the Ministry of Defense has earmarked eight locations around the city that may be suitable to establish helipads.
“The opening of Colombo city to private helicopters is excellent news. We have been in the forefront of the industry from its earliest days and have lobbied intensely for this to happen. Over the past few months we have conducted extensive research and have selected the Colts grounds as our preferred city helipad. Not only is the location very convenient for our city based clients, the Colts grounds also exceeds the stringent safety standards required to operate in urban environments. We thank the Colts Club and their membership for entering into a mutually beneficial agreement with us for the use of their excellent facilities. Innovation is what we do best and we are happy that we can now offer our valued guests a departure or arrival right into the heart of the great city of Colombo,” said the company in a brief statement.
“This is exactly what our clients have been asking for,” said Suren Mirchandani, industry pioneer and Deccan Vice Chairman. “While we have developed over 300 helipads throughout the island, this was the one we are most excited about. Our thanks should go out to those in authority who made this decision.”
Under previous regulations, private helicopters could not operate to within 10 miles of the city centre, with passengers having to depart from the Ratmalana airport.
On the sidelines of the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the city helipad, Deccan's Suren Mirchandani also elaborated on expansion plans of the airline.
“We can confirm that we are adding an amphibian aircraft to our fleet within a few months, making us the only operator in the country to offer all three air options, helicopter, aircraft and amphibians with an unprecedented reach throughout the island.
The addition of the Cessna 206 means that we will be maintaining and/or operating a total of six aircraft, including those on behalf of private corporate owners, a testament to the capabilities of the Deccan team and the confidence placed in us by our clients.”