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Government extends waiver on landing, parking charges for airlines till July

17 February 2021 09:07 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The Cabinet of Ministers this week granted approval to extend waivers on landing and aircraft parking charges at Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA) and Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) to attract international airlines in a bid to support the recovery of country’s tourism sector.


Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga on Monday presented the proposal in this regard to the Cabinet of Ministers, where he sought the waivers to be extended until July 19, 2021.
On December 21, 2020, the Government Information Department noted that the Cabinet of Ministers granted approval to exempt landing and aircraft parking charges for international air charter operations at MRIA and BIA as an incentive to support the country’s tourism industry hit by the pandemic.

On January 21 this year, the government officially re-opened the country’s airports for tourists allowing them to visit the island nation on regular scheduled flights.


Air Astana and SCAT Airlines of Kazakhstan recently commenced weekly scheduled flights to MRIA and the two airlines are expected to continue flying until April this year.


Meanwhile, several Gulf-based carriers resumed scheduled flights to BIA, including Bahrain-based Gulf Air and Dubai-based budget carrier Flydubai. 


Another Dubai-based low-cost carrier, Air Arabia has announced plans to resume scheduled flights to BIA from March 
this year.


Kuwaiti-based Jazeera Airways yesterday started scheduled flights to Colombo while choosing Sri Lanka as their first new destination for the year.


Further, Emirates has announced it would increase weekly scheduled flights to BIA to six flights by end of this month.


Meanwhile, Sri Lanka and India have also made progress in discussions to resume flights under the ‘air bubble’ concept. The Tourism Ministry is currently awaiting the approval of health authorities to enter into an agreement with India to resume scheduled flights between the two countries. India has formed ‘air bubble’ agreements with over 10 countries including Maldives.


The Central Bank (CB) last week announced it expects US$ 1.75 billion as tourism earnings this year. However, the country’s tourism authorities project that tourism earnings could reach US$ 500 million this year, while the government expects at least US$1 billion.


In January this year, the country earned US$ 3.2 million from the tourism industry, welcoming 1,682 tourists to the island. (NF)

 

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