According to airline officials, a dedicated helipad will soon be constructed in the near future, and until such time helicopters will be landing on a designated space adjacent to the existing sea-plane dock used by airlines including a seaplane operated by Simplifly.
While the government had earlier allowed seaplanes to operate to Waters Edge, security and other concerns had delayed the granting of approval for helicopters until a recent review of the situation by relevant officials, an airline spokesman added.
“We have been flying an amphibian aircraft on behalf of a corporate client to Waters Edge for some years now. So, it’s very welcome that our helicopter will also be able to serve the same destination. Waters Edge is the only star class attraction in our capital city of Sri Jayawardenapura, and we are delighted to have been appointed as their official helicopter service provider”, said Ishan Munaweera, Head of Sales and Business Development for Millennium Airlines, the owning company of Simplifly. The area is also seeing a boom in residential living and apartment developments, which in turn encourages leisure and corporate travel from the area, Munaweera added.
Simplifly already operates a city helipad in Colombo at the Colts Cricket Club on Havelock Road, and it is expected that the addition of a second urban helipad will further boost air transfers to and from the city for the airline, which has a fleet of 6 aircraft including amphibian aircraft and trainers and has carried over 27,000 passengers to all parts of Sri Lanka. Previously, passengers departing from Colombo had to take off from Colts grounds or Ratmalana airport.
Sources close to the aviation industry revealed that civilian helicopter operators led by well-established airlines like Simplifly are also making the case for a helipad in close proximity to downtown Colombo, similar to those in operation in New York, Mumbai and London. “The time is coming when helicopters will be operating right in the heart of the city, with due consideration for security and safety requirements”.
“I would like to thank all the officials at the Ministry of Defence & Urban Development, Sri Lanka Air Force for their guidance, co-operation to make this a reality. I would like to also thank the lead taken by Rohan Ferdandopulle, GM of Waters Edge for the support unstinting support,” said Suren Mirchandani, Founder of the airline. After starting the airline in 2004 with Indian expertise, Mirchandani has since parted ways with his Indian partners and the airline today is a joint venture with Singapore-based Millennium Investment Holdings, a diversified conglomerate with interests in banking, automotive and telecom sectors worldwide.