Abu Dhabi Airline quits amid tourist slump, but SriLankan profitable

[TamilNet, Friday, 20 July 2007, 02:19 GMT]
Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways said that it was pulling out of Sri Lanka, citing a sharp drop in tourist traffic to the island due to the renewed conflict. Etihad will discontinue its services to Colombo from 9 September and will instead offer flights to Colombo through it’s interline partner, Sri Lankan Airlines. Meanwhile, SriLankan Airlines Group, parent of the namesake airline and SriLankan Catering, posted a net profit of Rs. 862.2 million ($7.7 million) in the financial year ended March 31, marking its fifth consecutive profitable year but a 50% plunge from the prior 12-month period.

Geert W. Boven, Etihad Airways’ executive vice president sales and services, was quoted as saying: “Etihad continually monitors the commercial performance of its global flight network and has taken this decision following extensive market analysis.”

“Whilst it is always disappointing to exit a market, the decision means that we will be able to redeploy the A330-200 aircraft to new destinations on our expanding flight network,” he said.

The company cited a sharp downturn in Sri Lanka's tourism industry and the steep rise in the price of aviation fuel.

SriLankan Chairman S. Jayawardena said that the "financial year under review was so far the most challenging year for the airline in its 27-year history."

"The largest single factor that affected the airline's bottom line was the return to hostilities in Sri Lanka's internal conflict. The resultant travel advisories against visiting Sri Lanka brought very serious consequences on traditional markets such as Japan, the UK, Germany and France," Managing Director Tim Clark added.

Tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka plunged 30 per cent to 30,810 in June as compared with 44,066 a year earlier, the Gulf Daily News reported.

For the six months through June, overall tourist arrivals were down nearly 25p to 224,791 visitors, compared to the same period last year.


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