Hainan Airways, among China’s top 20 international airlines and fourth largest international airline in terms of fleet in that country with over 200 aircraft, which was to launch its maiden flight to Colombo via Bangkok next Tuesday (18) with much fanfare and aplomb, has now decided to abandon the Colombo route for reasons best known to the airline.

The Chinese airline was to have four weekly flights to Colombo via Bangkok, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays beginning next Tuesday and scheduled to land at the Katunayake International Airport on all days at 17:20 and depart to Beijing at 19:00 hours on the same day. The travel and leisure industry was upbeat about the arrival of the latest airline which was seen as a positive strategy in bolstering Sino- Lanka economic, trade and cultural ties.

"This was a commercial decision taken by the airline which was beyond our control and we are trying our best to revive the agreement, " a despondent Gerard Victoria, Director of Hayleys Leisure Holdings ( Pvt) Ltd, General Sales Agents for Hainan Airways told The Island Financial Review late Wednesday night.

This is the latest decision from Hainan and we have informed the trade in Colombo and we are awaiting the final official confirmation from China. This is also a part of a Hainan destination- rescheduling which has also entailed the dropping of its inaugural flight to the Indian commercial capital of Mumbai along with other regular flights to the Indonesian capital of Djakarta.

Hainan has also recalled its Colombo General Manager Brian Yang to China, but the GSA is intact, Victoria asserted.
We are trying our utmost to revive the Colombo flight sometime next year and for starters, we are trying now to operate offline by convincing China to get Colombo passengers to embark Hainan from Bangkok to Bejing and other global destinations, he said.
Air Global (Pvt) Ltd, a Hayleys Group Member and Hayleys Leisure Holdings subsidiary was appointed as General Sales Agent for Hainan Airways and the GSA office was ceremonially opened at 296, RA De Mel Mawatha, Colombo 3 at a simple, yet colourful ceremony on September 5. Dangodage Ranatunge became the first Colombo customer of the airline who purchased his ticket on that day.
Hainan was to fly a Boeing 737-800 aircraft to Colombo which had eight business class seats and 154 economy class seats initially and the airline was billed upgrade its aircraft at the time that Colombo-bound traffic improved," Hainan’s founder Colombo General Manager Brian Yang said at the launch.
Air Global Manager Sudeshini Jayawardena said at the launch that with the passage of time, the airline was to extend the Colombo service to Male as well. "In addition to a large number of Chinese employees for Sri Lankan projects, there is scope for the religious tourism segment but is something that has to be promoted.

She also believed that Hainan would be a positive move for the Sri Lankan leisure industry with the large number of Chinese tourists who liked the sea and the beaches who already go to Male and that they will now come to Colombo as well.

Hainan was also promoted in Colombo for the Colombo/ Bangkok/Beijing sector as well as there are a lot of Sri Lankans who now prefer to tour Beijing over Bangkok. Hainan enjoys exclusivity of Terminal One of the Beijing Capital International Airport.

Hayleys Group Chairman Mohan Pandithage, in his opening remarks at the launch of the new GSA office on September 5, said Hayleys has been in airline representation for over 15 years and that he was very passionate about expanding the airline portfolio of the Group.
SOURCE: island.lk


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