By Joe Mortimer
SriLankan Airlines reports no downturn in business following Emirates withdrawal.
SriLankan Airlines continues to thrive despite the recent expiration of a ten-year management contract with Emirates Airline.
The management of SriLankan Airlines reverted to the Government of Sri Lanka from April 1, with no slowdown in business, according to Manoj Gunawardena, the recently appointed CEO of SriLankan Airlines
"It is business as usual and we continue to offer our award winning service. There has not been any significant disruption in our service to passengers," he said.
"The change in management has not had any effect on passenger bookings; we continue to offer the same services, deliver same service levels and maintain the same market presence."
Neither has the change in management resulted in any increase in fares, Gunawardena reassured.
"Even at the time of Emirates management contract pricing was an independent function based on market demand," he said.
"We do not envisage any price change due to the reason of the expiry management contract. However other key issues like rising costs and rising fuel prices may have an effect on our prices."
Emirates has retained a 43% stake in the carrier and has three officials sitting on the seven-man SriLankan Airlines board of directors.
Sri Lanka reported a huge growth in tourism arrivals in March, up 8.6% on the same period last year.
The Middle East market registered an increase of 80.6% in comparison with 2007, making it the fastest growing market for Sri Lanka in this period.
"Tourism to Sri Lanka from the Middle East is still a new concept and we will continue to actively promote the destination," he added.
"SriLankan Airlines also carries leisure traffic from the Middle East to the Maldives, India and seven destinations in the Far East including Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore."
The airline recently launched twice weekly flights to Jeddah, increasing its presence in the Middle East to nine destinations.
SriLankan Airlines operates 17 flights a week from Colombo to the UAE and according to Gunawardena, the airline is exploring the potential of expanding its presence in the Middle East.