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AVIATION

Travel agents endorse all-round luxury of SriLankan Airlines

It was certainly a day for discovery and pleasant experiences for the cream of Sri Lanka’s travel industry, when national carrier SriLankan Airlines hosted them to a familiarization of its exclusive array of products and services recently.


At the Dandugama water aerodrome

More than 20 of the most experienced members of Sri Lanka’s largest travel agencies spent a full day with the airline, thoroughly enjoying the best of SriLankan both in the air and on the ground.

An initiative of the Sri Lanka Sales department of SriLankan Airlines, the event afforded the travel agents a taste of the traditional warmth and hospitality the airline is famed for when they visited the Semondu signature restaurant, the Silk Route Lounge for Business Class passengers at Bandaranaike International Airport, Serendib Business Class Lounge, Serendiva Transit Hotel, the upgraded Business Class Cabins and a ride on SriLankan Air Taxi’s float plane.


Trying out the new flat-bed seats in Business Class

 

SriLankan’s Manager Sri Lanka and Maldives, Saminda Perera, explained: “SriLankan Airlines has undergone a complete transformation over the last 12 months in terms of the entire experience that our passengers receive. We have invested heavily towards giving every passenger a truly delightful experience.”

“We wanted our partners in the industry who are the top travel agents of Sri Lanka to experience for themselves the level of sophisticated service our country’s national carrier now provides. We have a fleet consisting of more modern aircraft, and our passenger cabins are being upgraded with flat-bed seating in Business Class and sophisticated new AVOD entertainment systems. Most importantly, we have brought in a fully customer-friendly culture”.

The tour began with the travel agents visiting the recently commissioned Dandugama Oya water aerodrome to take off on a scenic flight on SriLankan Air-taxi, to experience the breathtaking aerial view of the landscape and also see first-hand how float plane operations can benefit tourism and afford convenient inland travel.


Travel agents relax in the Silk Route Lounge at BIA

The Air Taxi provides quick transfers to 15 domestic destinations from Dandugama which is located in close proximity to the Bandaranaike International Airport.

The travel agents were particularly impressed with the Silk Route Lounge at the Bandaranaike International Airport managed by Airport & Aviation Authority (AASL) and were glad to learn of this new service which ensures business class passengers no longer need to go into the main terminal and stand in queues, but walk straight in to this lounge where all their travel needs are taken care of with a personal touch by AASL and SriLankan airlines staff while they sit in comfortable lounge chairs.

The group also visited SriLankans’ plush Serendib Lounge, available free to all of SriLankan Airlines’ Business Class passengers. Equipped with state of the art facilities and comforts, the Serendib Lounge is comparable to top airport lounges in the world.

Another port of call at the airport was the Serenediva Transit Hotel, managed by SriLankan Catering. This 24-roomed hotel on the upper floor of the BIA terminal is designed to provide rest and relaxation for passengers as they await their onward flight. Its facilities include deluxe and standard rooms and Conference Centre.

A sumptuous business class meal service on board a SriLankan Airbus A330 aircraft parked on the apron was the perfect ending to an eventful day for the travel agents, whilst being pampered by a team of friendly cabin staff in the comfort and luxury of the aircrafts’ upgraded business class cabin, giving a feel of the real in-flight experience with the national carrier.

Some of the quotes from the travel agents :“A day well spent learning the new features and additions to the ‘SriLankan’ product, this visit was truly worthwhile”.

- Faris Deen, Gabo Travels “I loved flying on the SriLankan Air Taxi which was a truly unique experience and this entire tour has been very well organized. SriLankan has taken a lot of care over it.”

-Sonali Liyanamana, Chief Operating Officer -Mackinnons American Express Travel “SriLankan Air Taxi service and also its Silk Route facility for all Business Class travelers, are both excellent products.”

- Riza Ahamat, Director / General Manager of Hemas Travels “SriLankan should organize more such tours for other members of the travel community, including younger staff who need to be familiar with the product to better promote the airline.”

- V. Yogarajan, Chief Operating Officer- Mackinnons American Express Travel “SriLankan has come a very long way and really means “Business” on their “Business Class”, their product is one of the best you can find.”

-Dino De Fonseka, CEO- UNIGLOBE Leisure World Travel.


Kingfisher Airlines Q1 losses double

Cash-strapped Kingfisher Airlines on Saturday said quarterly losses more than doubled from a year earlier, fuelling fresh doubts about the future of the private Indian carrier.


An Indian labourer watches a Kingfisher Airline flight take
off from the city airport in Mumbai. AFP

Kingfisher's net loss widened to 6.60 billion rupees ($120 million) in the financial quarter to June from a loss of 2.63 billion rupees in the same period last year, as revenues slumped due to reduced operations. “The company has suffered substantial losses and its net worth has been eroded,” the airline said in its earnings statement.

But Kingfisher -- which has never posted a profit since its launch in 2005 -- said it still hoped to “get recapitalised” and added it was “in discussion with several strategic and financial investors to bring in fresh capital”.

The company, which is carrying a $1.4 billion debt load, did not identify the potential investors.

The airline, controlled by Indian liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya, blamed the latest loss on “high fuel costs, high interest rates, depreciation of the rupee and expenses due to the return of aircraft to lessors.”

AFP


Emirates now flies to Phuket


Phuket, the biggest island in Thailand, located in the Andaman Sea, will become Emirates’ second destination in Thailand from December 10, 2012.

Emirates, one of the world’s fastest growing airlines, continue its network expansion with the announcement of the start of daily services to Phuket in Thailand.

Phuket, the largest island in Thailand located in the Andaman Sea, will, from December 10, become Emirates’ second destination in Thailand. “Emirates is looking forward to the launch of our non-stop, daily service to Phuket, which will be just in time for the holiday season. We have always had a strong affiliation with Thailand and have been operating flights to Bangkok since 1990,” said Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline.

“Thailand is an important market for Emirates, we currently operate four daily flights between Dubai and Bangkok, including one with our Airbus A380 aircraft. We are confident that Phuket will prove a popular destination for our passengers, especially those from the UAE, Middle East and Europe,” added Clark.

Phuket will become the 15th route launch for the airline this year and the second in South East Asia following on from Ho Chi Minh City in June.With a fleet of 178 aircraft and already the largest A380 operator in the world, with 22 in service, Emirates currently flies to 125 destinations in 74 countries.


Singapore Airlines 1 Q net profit up 73%

Singapore Airlines’ first quarter net profit soared 73 percent from last year, it said Wednesday, partly driven by higher passenger traffic.

But the growth statistic was magnified by a low profit figure for the corresponding period in 2011, when it was hit by higher fuel costs and soft demand due to the earthquake and tsunami disasters in Japan.

The carrier, considered a bellwether for the full-service airline industry, said net profit came in at Sg$78 million ($62 million) for the quarter to June 2012, compared with Sg$45 million last year, and was in line with analysts’ expectations.

Group revenue advanced six percent to Sg$3.78 billion, while expenditure climbed four percent to Sg$3.71 billion. SIA shares closed at Sg$10.69 apiece at the stock market before the report was released.

Earnings were boosted by a rise in passenger volumes as it offered a host of promotions to bolster loads amid intense competition and a weak global economy, the airline said in a statement.

But it painted a gloomy outlook for the rest of the year in a “difficult environment”, with the price of jet fuel -- which accounts for 40 percent of total expenditure -- still near historical highs despite retreating.

“The global economy remains uncertain as Europe struggles to contain its debt crisis, while the United States faces a sluggish recovery,” said the airline, which analysts said gets over half of its earnings from premium passengers.

“This has negatively impacted business confidence and the outlook for travel demand. Promotional efforts undertaken to boost carriage add downward pressure on yields, especially in Europe and the United States,” it added.

SIA said the cargo business also remained under pressure, with forward indicators signalling weaker demand.

SIA is facing stiffer competition from emerging full-service carriers like those from the Middle East -- which have narrowed the gap in

in-flight services at lower ticket prices -- as well as from the increasingly popular budget airlines plying regional routes.

“Going forward, it is going to be tough,” said Shukor Yusof, an analyst with Standard and Poor's Equity Research.

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