Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, will increase its frequencies from four to 17 to Colombo in the future and will focus on advancing its network, rather than concentrating on the profitability factor, according to top officials.
“We will increase the frequencies in the medium to longer term as there seem to be a consistent improvement in the tourism numbers in Sri Lanka,” Kumar de Silva, Country Manager Sri Lanka and Maldives, Etihad told the Business Times on the sidelines of a press event to launch the resumption of flights by this airline.
Etihad Airways discontinued services to Colombo in September 2007 and this month (January 2010) resumed flights, operating four A320 flights per week between Abu Dhabi and Colombo. Mr. De Silva said he is confident the resumption of Etihad flights will be welcomed by the considerable Sri Lankan expatriate community living in the UAE and those living across the Middle East region who will be able to connect quickly and easily back home via Abu Dhabi.
“Etihad Airways is confident that with the end of the civil conflict in Sri Lanka, tourist traffic in particular will increase in the coming months,” he added. “We have an enormous opportunity to make a real contribution to the growth of trade and tourism as Sri Lanka re-establishes its position in the global arena,” he added. He said there was 72% -80% load factor when Etihad stopped flights in 2007.