- Total traffic movements of BIA and MIRA have grown by about 60% in September, compared with August
- Passenger traffic to further boom with Air France and Swiss International Airlines commencing direct flights to SL from Nov.
The government sounded optimistic this week in the local tourism sector and aviation industry gathering steam to witness a fast-tracked recovery as several “positive” developments are taking place, which would allow the nation to reap the much-needed economic benefits in the immediate future.
Just as passenger traffic is on a sharp upward trajectory since the relaxation of travel restrictions and also the active vaccination drive, Aviation and Export Zones Development State Minister D.V. Chanaka stated via a media statement that the aviation space is expected to boom as Sri Lanka has received expressions of interest from several airlines to resume and also kick off fresh operations in
“We are excited to see the support given by the existing and new airlines to revive the country’s aviation industry as well as the tourism industry,” said Chanaka.
Some of the positive developments witnessed include the total traffic movements of Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) and Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MIRA) growing by about 60 percent in September, when compared with August.
Since Sri Lanka opened its borders for international travellers in January 2021, slow yet steady progress was witnessed in the arrivals. However, after the fresh wave of COVID-19 impacting the country, a sharp drop was seen in May. With relaxed travel restrictions and eased protocols at the airport, a positive growth trajectory is observed once again.
The increase is attributed to several international airlines operating on schedule. The passenger traffic is expected to further boom with Air France and Swiss International Airlines gearing up to commence direct flights to Sri Lanka from November 2021.
Starting November 5, Air France will commence its operations and will operate routes from Europe, the USA, Canada, Central America and South America, to Sri Lanka. Air France operations will use its network and the services of joint-venture partners such as Delta Airlines and Virgin Atlantic.
Similarly, Swiss International Airlines too will commence operations from November 5, where it will operate two weekly flights between Colombo and Zurich.
Chanaka affirmed that several other new international airlines have kicked off the negotiation process with Sri Lanka to commence operations in the winter season.
Despite the steady pick up in passenger travel globally, the Airport Council International (ACI) highlighted in its latest report that much is to be done to bring global passenger traffic to the pre-pandemic levels.
Based on the forecasts by the ACI, 2021 passenger numbers will be 47.3 percent down, when compared with the 2019 figures and it will take up to two decades for the global traffic to return to previously predicted levels.
The aviation industry came to a virtual halt soon after the COVID-19 pandemic struck the world and will continue to face an existential threat, the ACI said.
IATA reports of 2020 highlighted that the COVID-19 crisis removed more than 5.9 billion passengers for the whole year 2020, compared to the projected baseline (pre-COVID-19 forecast for 2020), representing a decline of 62.3 percent of global passenger traffic compared to 2019, which is, by far, the sharpest traffic decline in