SriLankan Airlines crew
One of the 'mercy flights' operated by SriLankan Airlines just after the COVID-19 turned into a global scare. The carrier is hoping it can get back to some sort of normal services in the shortest possible time. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai: SriLankan Airlines is ready to resume flights that connect the island to global destinations.

“Despite the challenges we face, we are looking forward to the reopening," said Ashok Pathirage, Chairman of SriLankan Airlines, in a statement."Even though scheduled services were suspended, we have been working to provide relief flights to repatriate stranded Sri Lankans and other nationals.”

The airline suspended services in early April. SriLankan Airlines operates a fleet of 24 aircraft through its hub at Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo.

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An eye on the goal

The airline has not lost sight of its expansion targets for this year, with plans to add destinations such as Sydney, Incheon and Chengdu to its network. However, its primary focus will be on consolidating its position in key markets such as India, China, the UK and other major destinations.

“The global aviation industry has grown in an environment of uncertainty from its inception," the official added. "Uncertainty is the norm in this business and we are adapting to the present uncertainty.”

Extensive measures

SriLankan Airlines has implemented protocols for health and safety onboard its aircraft and across its terminals. These include physical distancing, facemasks and other protective gear for passengers and workers, routine disinfection of aircraft and terminal environments, health screening, contact-tracing, passenger health declarations and testing.

“Each aircraft is subjected to cleaning and disinfection before and after each flight," said Pathirage. "We have even removed all reading material from seat-back pockets and provided a mechanism for online pre-ordering of in-flight duty-free items to minimize physical contact.” The aircraft are also fitted with HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filters.

The resumption of normal flights is crucial to Sri Lanka’s tourism-reliant economy. “Tourism is a major sector of Sri Lanka’s economy and was forced to take a huge hit during the pandemic crisis," the airline said in the statement. "However, the country’s tourism industry is no stranger to shocks, having demonstrated resilient growth even through the darkest days of Sri Lanka’s civil war.”