A proposal has come before the cabinet of ministers to launch a budget airline.The proposal was submitted through a joint cabinet paper from Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Tourism Development Minister, John Amaratunga.
The Joint Cabinet Paper submitted on November 15, proposes the establishment of a budget airline ‘AirAsia Sri Lanka’, under the Malaysia-based AirAsia Group.
The airline will service from Colombo, Jaffna, Hambantota and India, and will expand operations to other South Asian countries.The airline will then extend services to China and ASEAN countries before expanding to Africa and the Middle East in the final phase of implementation.
Plans have been made to purchase 24 A320 aircrafts for AirAsia Sri Lanka, within its first five years of operation.The cabinet paper states that within its first five years of operation, it will be able to bring 9.6 million tourists to the country.
The cabinet paper further states, tourists can be attracted to Sri Lanka through AirAsia’s 12 million Facebook fans, six million twitter followers and 110,000 YouTube subscribers.
In their cabinet paper, the Prime Minister and Minister John Amaratunga also note that in several countries budget airlines and full service airlines work together.
Furthermore, the paper cites Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, India, Vietnam and Philippines as examples.The cabinet paper states, full service airlines and budget carriers function in the same environment in these countries.
The paper seeks authorisation to hold talks with AirAsia on the necessary skills, provisions and other operational affairs.
Authorisation has been sought for these talks to be carried out by the Ministry of National Policies and Economic Affairs – a portfolio held by the Prime Minister, and the Department of Civil Aviation.