FlyDubai Sri Lanka flights increased
Emirates-based Flydubai, a budget carrier has upped frequencies to daily to Colombo from five a week and the carrier is seeing a surge in tourists to Sri Lanka from former Soviet republics, an official said.
Flydubai chief executive Ghaith Al Ghaith said tourists from former Soviet republics to Colombo had surged from about 500 to 1700 a month after schedule change in the network that allowed its flights to connect to Colombo better.
Flydubai flies to 13 destinations in former Soviet republics many of them secondary airports. This had allowed many tourists who earlier had to first travel to a main airport to fly out direct, he said.
Al Ghaith said tourists from former Soviet republics who had earlier travelled to countries like Tunisia also seems to travelling to Colombo following unrest in the region.
Daily frequencies to Colombo started in March 11.
"As far as we are concerned this is very important destination," Al Ghaith told reporters. "That is something we would like to nurture."
In addition to the standard traffic between the Middle East and Sri Lanka, Al Ghaith said he had noticed that Western expatriates working in the Middle East also liked to come to Sri Lanka on holiday, which is a market that could be developed further.
Flydubai has expressed interest in operating to Sri Lanka's second international airport in Hambantota, which is due to open next year, he said.
"We are discussing how best to do this," he said.
Al Ghaith said if Sri Lanka had more flights coming in and more hotel rooms available, tourist traffic will grow. Last year Sri Lanka's tourist arrivals rose 30 percent.
The industry has been booming since a 30-year war ended in 2009.
Flydubai is a start up Dubai state-run carrier that started with an order for 50 Boeing 737-800 aircraft.
The airline started in 2009. The airline is expecting to make profits this year.