Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways is to resume flights to Colombo in Sri Lanka in January 2010.
The airline will operate four flights per week from Abu Dhabi to Sri Lanka’s largest city and commercial capital, using two-class Airbus A320s configured to carry 140 passengers with 20 seats in business class and 120 in economy class.
Etihad Airways’ resumption of Sri Lanka flights follows the recent end to the civil conflict in the island nation and the boost that Etihad says is likely to provide to the tourism sector and to the wider economy as a whole. The airline says July and August 2009 witnessed a 30 per cent increase in visitors to the island compared with last year, and the Sri Lankan government is now targeting 2.5 million visitors a year by 2016.
“Sri Lanka is an established market with a strong local traffic base. We expect the resumption of Etihad flights to 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,” says James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ chief executive. “Colombo will be our first new route launch of 2010, and bring to 58 the number of destinations available across our expanding global network.”
The airline says it has scheduled the timing of the flights to facilitate onward connections from a number of key destinations on Etihad Airways’ network, including New York, Chicago and Toronto.
Flight EY266 will depart Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays at 9.55 p.m. (all times local) and arrive at Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB) at 3.45 a.m. the following day. Return flight EY267 will depart CMB on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 4.45 a.m., arriving in AUH at 8.00 a.m. the same morning.
Colombo is located on the west coast of the island and close to Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, the capital city of Sri Lanka. Due to its large harbour and its strategic position along the East-West sea trade routes, Colombo has a rich sea-trading tradition.
With a population of around 650,000 people, the city is the island’s commercial centre, home to a majority of Sri Lanka’s corporate offices, restaurants and entertainment venues. Famous Colombo landmarks include the Galle Face Green, the Viharamahadevi Park and the National Museum.
Etihad Airways has offered flights to Colombo through its codeshare partner, Sri Lankan Airlines, since September 2007. Under this agreement, Etihad Airways places its ‘EY’ code on Sri Lankan Airlines flights between Abu Dhabi and Colombo, and onwards to Male in the Maldives. In turn, Sri Lankan Airlines ‘UL’ code appears on Etihad Airways flights to Amman, Brussels, Dublin, Geneva, Munich and Manchester.
To coincide with the resumption of Etihad’s Colombo service, Sri Lankan Airlines will now also add its ‘UL’ code on Etihad’s Abu Dhabi-Colombo flights.