SriLankan hopes Paris return will increase inbound tourism

Sri Lanka’s flag-carrier is returning to the Colombo-Paris market at the same time as Air France is preparing to enter it.

SriLankan Airlines is returning to Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) from November as it seeks to increase the number of inbound tourists to Sri Lanka. 

The new scheduled service will operate from Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB) three times per week on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The airline plans to use Airbus A330-300 on the route, configured with 269 economy and 28 business-class seats.

The oneworld alliance member previously served France’s capital up to four times per week but ceased flights in November 2016 saying the route had become unsustainable. However, it operated a number of passenger and cargo flights during the pandemic in July and September 2020.

“As more international destinations ease travel restrictions, SriLankan Airlines is revving up its services to provide more choice and convenience for passengers,” CEO Vipula Gunatilleka said. “Paris is a hub for the rest of Europe, and direct flights will boost tourist arrivals during the winter season.”

The flight time from Colombo is around 11 hr. and 25 min. The service will depart Sri Lanka’s capital at 12.35 a.m. and arrives in Paris at 7.30 a.m. The return flight will leave on the same day at 2.30 p.m. and arrive back in Colombo at 5.20 a.m. the next day.

“This new service will allow leisure and business travelers alike to travel to and from Paris non-stop and reach their destination in less time,” chairman Ashok Pathirage said. 

“At a time the world tourism trade is trying to revive, we see this as an opportunity to grow our presence and promote Sri Lanka as an ideal travel destination in a new travel landscape dotted by new guidelines for safe travel.”

SriLankan’s return to the Colombo-Paris market comes as Air France is preparing to launch its own service between the destinations. Flights will start on Nov. 1, operating 3X-weekly as a continuation of the service to Malé (MLE) in the Maldives. Boeing 787-9s will be used on this route.

Photo credit: Getty Images/Craig Pershouse