Transforming adversity and despair into positivity, the National Carrier SriLankan Airlines has transformed the lack of passenger revenue since the closure of BIA into a revenue generating exercise through the operation of Cargo Charter Flights connecting Sri Lanka to other countries.
With the closure of the Bandaranaike International Airport on March, 2020, we have done over 50 Charter Fights to date, SriLankan Airlines Head of Cargo, Chamara Ranasinghe told ‘Daily News Finance’.
Among the operations that the National Carrier had completed were the transport of raw materials for the Sri Lankan apparel industry which was in an absolute crisis. Then it was the export of perishables such as Sri Lankan vegetables and fruits to the Gulf, then the critical medical supplies from China to the Gulf and then China to South Africa (Johannesburg).
What is more, the National Carrier will also be air lifting medical supplies from Shanghai to London from May 1 with many more European destinations to be added in the future as well, Ranasinghe said.
It all happened with the breakdown of COVID 19 virus and later with the closure of the Bandaranaike International Airport being subsequently closed, the Sri Lankan apparel sector was apparently critically hit and there were frantic appeals from the export community to SriLankan to intervene to source in the raw materials for the industry.
“We commenced flights to Shanghai’s Pudong Airport and Guangzhou (Canton) where we brought in the much needed raw materials mainly for the apparel industry and other vital industries as well,” he said.
Some of the other items which were also imported from China were face masks ad PPEs (Personal Protective Equipment) and Test Kits for Covid 19,” he said, adding that China Eastern Airlines also participated in the effort.
He also said that the next step that the national carrier was involved in was the export of perishable such as fruits and vegetables to Riyadh and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Pakistan, Singapore and Maldives. He said that there was an exception on Monday where there was a SriLankan Cargo Charter flight transporting sea food to Hong Kong and in the return flight, brought to Sri Lanka, a load of accessories for the apparel industry.
He also stressed that the national carrier was looking forward to taking the cargo business to the next level. He also thanked all the Divisions of the Airline which all assisted in the operation such as Flight Operations, Engineering, Network Planning, Finance and the Senior Management.