The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

Clearance for private helicopters to land in Colombo


Colts ground helipad

Looking for a quick and convenient entry into Colombo from an overseas trip? For the discerning, local or foreign traveller for whom speed is more important than cost, the government is permitting landing rights for helicoptors in Colombo, compared to earlier where such flights landed only at Ratmalana, 13 km to the south, from the Katunayake airport. In this context, domestic airline and helicopter operator Deccan Aviation said it has established the first privately-run city helipad at the Colts Cricket Grounds on Havelock Road, following the relaxation on stringent security restrictions on civil flights over the capital city.

The government has recently given approval for private helicopter operators to conduct flights into Colombo, compared to earlier when this was limited only to the the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF). “The recent relaxation of the rules is seen as an effort to ensure a level playing field between the commercial arm of the SLAF and other helicopter operators,” Deccan said in a media statement.

The Civil Aviation Authority in consultation with the Ministry of Defense has earmarked eight locations around the city that may be suitable to establish helipads. “The opening of Colombo city to private helicopters is excellent news. We have been in the forefront of the industry from its earliest days and have lobbied intensely for this to happen,” it said� “This is exactly what our clients have been asking for”, said Suren Mirchandani, industry pioneer and Deccan Vice Chairman.

“While we have developed over 300 helipads throughout the island, this was the one we are most excited about. Our thanks should go out to those in authority who made this decision.” Mr Mirchandani also spoke on expansion plans of the airline saying the company is adding an amphibian aircraft to its fleet within a few months, making it the only operator in the country to offer all three air options, helicopter, aircraft and amphibians across the island. The addition of the Cessna 206 means that Deccan would be maintaining and/or operating a total of six aircraft, including those on behalf of private corporate owners.

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