Budget airlines on the cards | Sunday Observer

Budget airlines on the cards

The government is currently working on the modalities of the budget airline that it plans to launch, to boost the travel and tourism industry through a low cost airline, as done in many popular tourist destinations, Minister of Tourism and Christian Affairs, John Amaratunga said.

He said that the government is working on the modalities and its regulatory requirement and hopes to complete the operational procedures soon to launch the airline.

“The Ministry of Tourism warmly welcomes the initiative that will help drive tourism in a major way. We need initiatives similar to Singapore and Malaysia where tourism has grown leaps and bounds bringing in the much needed foreign exchange,” the Minister said.

The proposal to set up a budget airline was submitted through a joint Cabinet paper from Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Tourism Minister John Amaratunga early last month. The Cabinet paper proposes the setting up a budget airline ‘AirAsia Sri Lanka’ under the Malaysia based AirAsia Group.

According to reliable sources, the airline will initially fly from Colombo to Jaffna, Hambantota and India and expand to other destinations in South Asia later. The airline will then expand services to ASEAN countries and then to Africa and the Middle East.

The low cost carrier is expected to bring in over nine million visitors to the country during its first five years of operation.

Civil Aviation Authority CAA, Director General H. M. C. Nimalsiri said the role of the CAA will be to issue the certification for the airline with regard to safety, security and efficiency in line with local and international regulatory needs.

“The CAA was involved in the discussions with the Cabinet Committee on Economic Management a month ago. Our task is to ensure that the airline meets the regulations on aviation,” Nimalsiri said.

However, there has been concern about the safety track record of the Malaysian based airline and when questioned about it, the CAA DG said the CAA will look into the safety of the airline to ensure there is no recurrence of past incidents.