TRAVEL agents in Sri Lanka are “overjoyed” as KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) is set to resume direct services to the once war-torn country after a near 20-year absence.
KLM this week announced that it will commence twice-weekly flights on October 31, departing from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol aboard a Boeing 787 Dreamliner with 30 seats in World Business Class, 48 seats in Economy Comfort and 216 seats in Economy Class.
After pulling out of Colombo in 1997 due to the escalating conflict on the island, the airline only had services to Sri Lanka via Abu Dhabi, until now.
“I am excited by the return of KLM. This is massive boost to Sri Lankan tourism particularly for the European and north American sector,” said Ahintha Amerasinghe, managing director at Worldlink Travels.
He added that the industry might also benefit from increased traffic from South America, where KLM has a strong presence in.
As well, Sunil Peiris, director at Jetwing Travels, pointed out that a strong carrier like KLM would be a tremendous boost for Europe as a source market given how SriLankan Airlines and Austrian Airlines are the only ones currently providing direct connections there from Sri Lanka.
“It will enhance the value of Sri Lanka and encourage more carriers to fly to Colombo,” he said.
KLM stated it expects positive demand, noting how Sri Lanka’s per capita income has doubled in the past 10 years and that the island is a popular tropical leisure destination for Europeans.