Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - 2021-11-21


Fly Lankan Asia low cost airline takes wing in January


A US-based investor has invested US$10 million in operating Sri Lanka’s third international carrier, Fly Lankan Asia set to take wing as a low cost regional airline commencing January 2022. Fly Lankan Asia is set to operate as a regional carrier to destinations like (2-3 cities in) India, Maldives, Indonesia (2-3 cities), Malaysia (2 cities), Myanmar and Dubai, the airline’s CEO Dr. Arosha Fernando told the Business Times. The airline will fly out of Ratmalana and Katunayake to these destinations and also use Mattala as a transit operation. The airline will primarily focus on cargo traffic, it was pointed out as there continues to be a higher demand that SriLankan Airlines and Fits Aviation, a cargo carrier, are unable to cater to, it was pointed out. Commencing January 1, Fly Lankan Asia will start its operations by bringing down a Boeing 737 aircraft from Kenya that could accommodate 160-190 passengers and five more aircraft that are still under discussion to being purchased, Dr. Fernando explained. The airline will also look at carrying out operations on specific routes and types of traffic like the group travel of religious communities on the Jakarta-MattalaJeddah route that will provide them the opportunity to have a special kitchen at Mattala to prepare food for these types of passengers as well, it was noted. And also select Goa in India as a direct destination to fly to catering to the increasing Catholic community flying there, he said. As part of the second stage of the operations starting March, the airline intends on providing an easy passage from Ratmalana to Palaly in Jaffna and return via Batticaloa for which one aircraft with 20-30 seating capacity will be allocated. Despite the shutdowns experienced by other airlines, Fly Lankan Asia believes that this is a great opportunity to purchase aircraft and operate them and although they are a low cost carrier, “we will not cut corners but as an organisation we will be an efficient mode,” Dr. Fernando explained. With about 50 low cost carriers operating in the Asian region, Fly Lankan Asia will be joining the stiff competition and in this respect, it was noted that “we are quite confident that we can tap the market, as we have a good bargaining power to purchase aircraft” and experience in the aviation sector as the main investor already has about five carriers under his wing, the CEO stated. The business model that the airline operates on is as a lean and mean organisation in adopting the model of a low cost carrier, Dr. Fernando said. In their longer term plans they hope to move into operating direct flights to destinations like Australia, Europe and the US, the CEO said. Currently there are plans in establishing a flying school as well, he noted adding that Sri Lanka is already producing quite a high number of skilled people for the industry and this new venture will create more opportunities for Sri Lankans. Dr. Fernando has a number of caps to his reputation from being a film producer having produced 17 films, five tele dramas and two stage plays and a total of 24 productions to his credit during the past eight years; to having 28 years’ experience in senior management in the local and international business field and currently the chairman and Managing Director of five other companies in Sri Lanka.


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