Sri Lanka announces plan to reduce ground handling charges in bid to boost tourism

The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority has received approval to reduce ground handling charges, aviation fuel, and the embarkation levy for all international flights for 6 months.

The Authority worked with the Prime Minister’s office, the Ministry of Tourism and the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka to table the changes in a cabinet paper on Monday.

“The positive and immediate action taken by the Government, especially by the Prime Minister, John Amaratunga and the DGCA, Mr. Nimalsiri, in response to the urgent request made by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, comes at a critical time and is most appreciated”, said Johanne Jayaratne, Chairman, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority.

“The Authority will be working closely with the Board of Airline Representatives (BAR), and the Sri Lanka Association of Airline Representatives (SLAAR) to ensure that these lowered rates are reflected in the Airline ticket pricing going forward” he added.

Tourism in Sri Lanka was affected badly by the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks on April 21, which killed 259 people in a series of coordinated bombings across the country.

Flights were reduced from 300 a week to 239 following the attacks, resulting in a seat supply loss of 8,000 per week and a predicted loss to the economy of around $1.3 billion this year.

Flight frequencies to Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) were reduced by 11 foreign airlines, while one Russian airline (Rossiya) withdrew its flights completely.

The hope from the Sri Lankan government is that the reductions in aviation charges will encourage airlines to lower the cost of their tickets to the country, combining this with discounts and deals offered by hotels and restaurants in Sri Lanka.