Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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SL Airlines banks on tourism to spread its wings to China again

SriLankan Airlines is to renew its commercial operations to China in the first week of April 2023, with a thrice weekly service each to Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou as China reopens its borders.

China was a leading source market for inbound tourism to Sri Lanka and one of SriLankan’s premier leisure traveler segments before the pandemic, and SriLankan is positioning for a strong comeback in China upon its return.

SriLankan Airlines Chairman Ashok Pathirage emphasizes that the global aviation industry is expected to make a full recovery from the pandemic downturn by next year.

As such, his airline’s plans align with the market forecasts. Along with China, the carrier is keen to boost its presence at the airports of another Asian counterpart, India, he said. .

There are high hopes for China-bound travel in 2023. Other East Asian regions, such as Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, finally relaxed restrictions in recent months. However, mainland China is still largely cut-off.

In previous years, SriLankan Airlines flew to the likes of Chengdu, Chongqing, and Kunming. More recently, it has prioritized routes to Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai. Regardless, activity has been limited due to the ongoing stringent travel restrictions within China.

SriLankan will launch passenger flights to Shanghai on 3 April 2023. Accordingly, flights will depart from Colombo to Shanghai every Monday, Thursday and Friday, and return from Shanghai to Colombo every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, respectively, the Airlines said.

Flights from Colombo to Beijing will also commence on 3 April 2023, and are scheduled to depart for Beijing on Monday, Wednesday and Friday every week. The return flights to Colombo will depart on the respective subsequent days.

SriLankan Airlines currently operates a weekly flight between Colombo and Guangzhou, and a second flight will be introduced on 4 March 2023.

Furthermore, SriLankan’s services to Guangzhou will become a thrice-weekly operation exactly a month later on 4 April 2023, with flights taking off from Colombo to Guangzhou every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The return flights from Guangzhou to Colombo will depart every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

With Chinese travelers eager to make up for lost time in globetrotting, SriLankan will be working closely with the local travel trade to reignite enthusiasm for Sri Lanka as a leisure destination in China.

In addition to specifically curated holiday packages and deals, SriLankan offers Chinese customers the convenience of paying via Alipay and WeChat Pay.

SriLankan Airlines has temporarily suspended its services between Sri Lanka and China from 10th March to 30th April 2020 due to market conditions driven by significant reduction in worldwide travel to and from China.

SriLankan Airlines continued to fly to China after many airlines suspended services or reduced frequencies, including four Chinese airlines that operate between Colombo and China.

The Government of China has also imposed restrictions on overseas travel of its own citizens.

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