SriLankan Airlines will this month boost the frequency of its flights between Colombo and Riyadh to meet increasing outbound demand from Saudi Arabia into the local and wider Indian and Far East markets via Bandaranaike International Airport in the island nation’s capital city. A designate member of the oneworld global alliance, the carrier will introduce an additional three flights on the route from December 13, 2012, increasing frequencies from two to five a week.
Flights between Colombo and Riyadh were introduced by SriLankan Airlines in March 1988, initially operating on a weekly basis, but a second rotation was introduced from July 1999. The airline competes directly with Saudia on the route, the Saudi Arabian national carrier now offering up to four flights per week, two to which operate on a triangle basis also serving Jeddah. In first nine months of 2012, an estimated 103,000 O&D passengers travelled between Colombo and Riyadh, up 2.7 per cent on the same period in 2011. SriLankan Airlines held an 18 per cent share of this traffic this year down from 23 per cent in 2011.
“The Middle East is considered as one of the fastest growing regions in the world. SriLankan being in the forefront of the international air transportation industry sees a great potential in facilitating the growing demand for air travel. Therefore the increased frequency to Riyadh reflects the commitment of the SriLankan in providing world class service under the theme ‘you are our world’,” said Lal Perera, Head of Worldwide Sales, SriLankan Airlines.
SriLankan currently flies to eleven Gulf and Middle East destinations operating a total of 59 flights a week to Kuwait, Dammam, Riyadh, Muscat, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Doha, Jeddah, Amman and Sharjah. The airline’s full network spans 64 destinations in 35 countries worldwide in Europe, North America, Canada, India, the Far East and Middle East.
Air passenger demand between the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East consist of individuals travelling for reasons that range from pilgrimage to leisure to business and trade. According to statistics from the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment, 86 per cent of the Sri Lankan labour market has been absorbed by countries in this region, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, and Jordan and the increased flights to Riyadh, the commercial capital of Saudi Arabia, will support the migrant workforce.