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Sri Lankan flag carrier cancels flights from Rajapaksa airport

Sri Lanka's heavily-drained flag carrier on Saturday said it will scrap all flights via the country's newest international airport named after former president Mahinda Rajapaksa in his home constituency for "rationalising" its operations.



Colombo: Sri Lanka's heavily-drained flag carrier on Saturday said it will scrap all flights via the country's newest international airport named after former president Mahinda Rajapaksa in his home constituency for "rationalising" its operations.

Sri Lankan Airlines said it is cancelling its operations via the Rajapaksa International Airport in Hambantota -- the home constituency of the former president -- from February 9 to focus on more commercially sustainable services.

It said flying from the airport, built by Rajapaksa with funds from a Chinese bank, was a huge burden on the carrier already troubled carried weigh downed with debts of nearly USD 650 million.

The airline said in a statement that on the direction of aviation minister Faizer Mustapha, Sri Lankan Airlines has re-deployed its capacity and adjusted its scheduled operations.

"This translates to an annual bottom line improvement of approximately USD 18 million," Sri Lanka's Dailymirror quoted the airline.

The national carrier has decided to cut back on uneconomical operations and focus on routs generation more revenues.

"The immediate schedule changes which will see the airline rationalising its scheduled operations to and via MRIA and enhancing capacity to other high demand Middle East destinations, while reducing capacity to under-performing routes such as Moscow," it said.

It said airline is also critically reviewing its entire route network, and added that these initiatives will help the airline to further improve commercially.

In March 2013, Rajapaksa opened the USD 206-million airport, intending to make it a new economic hub and turning it into a gateway to the country's southeast.

But the airport's earnings remained mostly discouraging, with USD 125 earned in May last year.

Rajapaksa, 69, lost to Maithripala Sirisena in the bitterly-fought polls held last week.

During the campaigh, the former president was accused of corruption in infrastructure pojects and nepotism by his arch-rival, who until November was his deputy.

From Zee News

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