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Kolkata-Colombo direct air service begins


Kolkata: Carrying 116 passengers on board, the first direct flight to the city from Colombo touched down at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport today.

The Airbus-319, belonging to Sri Lanka government’s low-cost carrier Mihin Lanka, touched down at 2 pm with 116 passengers — 105 in economy class and 11 in business class — after a three-hour journey from Colombo, an airline official said.

The return flight left the city at around 3 pm taking 120 passengers to Colombo.

“It’s a historic moment and we are quite excited and proud to start this flight service. We are very pleased to add another destination to our network in India,” SriLankan Airlines, Director/CEO Rakita Jayawardena told PTI.

“The two countries have close cultural ties. And because of the presence of several Buddhist relics in Kolkata we felt the need to start up a service. We will do a proper marketing of Kolkata’s connection to Sri Lanka,” Jayawardena said adding that the Kolkata has centuries-old connection with Colombo.

Mihin Lanka will operate the service thrice a week from the Netaji Subhas Chandra International Airport.

Asked whether there were any plans to start all-day service from Kolkata, Jayawardena said, “Yes, we do have such plans but we want to take little but solid steps. We want to see the response in the first three months and then take a decision accordingly.

“In fact, we are eyeing the Durga Puja and Diwali season because a lot of people travel during that time. We are seeing how to introduce more frequent flights. We will have to introduce wide-body aircraft for that purpose,” he stated.

For a trip from the city to Colombo and back, Mihin Lanka, as an introductory offer is charging Rs 15,500. Other carriers whose flights, however, operate via New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai or Bangalore charge Rs 26,000-27,000.

“These were introductory offers but I will like to say that our fares will be competitive,” Indian Association of Tour Operators president Subhash Goyal said.

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