Sri Lankan Airlines resumes flights to Rome

Tuesday, 25 November 2008 08:13

Sri Lankan Airlines said it will resume flights to Rome from December 3, 2008, its first new destination since the management of the national carrier returned to the government in April.

The airline said in a statement the new 10-hour flight would help Sri Lanka attract more Italian visitors to the island whose tourist industry has suffered because of the violence and uncertainty generated by the ethnic war.

"This service will be extremely beneficial to the large population of Sri Lankans in Italy, and also for pilgrimages to Rome by Sri Lanka's Catholic community," said Kaushal Seneviratne, the airline's Regional Manager UK, Europe, & Americas.

Sri Lankan Airlines and the tourism promotion agency, Sri Lanka Tourism, are trying to bring increased numbers of Italian tourists to Sri Lanka, which has traditionally been a popular destination among European tourists.

"The service will be particularly convenient for Italians travelling to the sunny resorts in the Maldives," the statement also said.

Italy is the largest country of origin of tourists to the Maldives, with more than 120,000 visitors annually.

The statement said Sri Lankan Airlines is the largest operator to the Maldives, with a total of 21 flights a week from Colombo, London, and Tokyo. Male is a short 75-minute flight from Colombo.

Rome was among several destinations to which Sri Lankan suspended services in 2001, when the global airline industry faced a crisis following the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The airline said the addition of new destinations to its route network is one of several steps in its "prudent plan" to revive profitability.

It said Sri Lankan Airlines has successfully weathered the challenge of high fuel prices by increasing operational efficiencies "across the board" since April, when a management contract with Emirates, which has a stake in the airline, ended.

The new thrice-weekly service, which will be operated on Airbus A340 wide-bodied aircraft, will take the route Colombo-Rome-Paris-Rome-Colombo, on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday.

The flight, UL563, will originate in Colombo at 1 a.m local time, and arrive at Rome's Fiumicino Airport at 7 a.m. local time

It will depart Rome at 8 a.m and reach Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris at 10:10 a.m.

The return journey, UL564, will commence from Paris at 11:50 a.m. and arrive in Rome at 1:45 p.m.

Takeoff from Rome is scheduled at 2:45 p.m. for Colombo, where it will touch down at 5 a.m. the next day. (All times are local)

With the addition of Rome, SriLankan will have a network of 45 destinations in 25 countries across Europe, the Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent, and the Far East.

Source: Lanka Business Online

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