The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said the reason why Kuwait Airways decided to halt its operations to Sri Lanka was due to a shortage of flights they are experiencing and certainly not because of the dollar crisis Sri Lanka is facing, where businesses find it hard to pay their international partners in US dollars.
Speaking to us, CAA Director – Air Transport and Economic Regulations Rayhan Wanniappa said: “What they (Kuwait Airways) have told us is that an aircraft rotation issue has arisen. When I checked with them, that is what they told me.”
However, Wanniappa said that even though the above has been communicated by Kuwait Airways, the airline has not officially written to the CAA on the sudden stoppage of flights to Sri Lanka.
Wanniappa added that flights of Kuwait Airways to Sri Lanka were not cancelled due to the country’s prevailing foreign exchange crisis in particular.
“It is a temporary stoppage,” Wanniappa stated, whereas the duration of the halt was not mentioned.
Responding to an inquiry The Morning Business raised regarding the negative impact this stoppage would have on the island in terms of tourist arrivals, Wanniappa stressed that the aforesaid airway operated few flights to Colombo and therefore, it cannot be predicted that Kuwait Airways’ measure to halt flights would have any “major” impact, because there are other airlines being operated.
Elaborating further, he noted: “They (airlines that are operated in Sri Lanka, excluding Kuwait Airways) have increased their frequencies as well, so there won’t be a major issue.”
Moreover, he said that these airlines mostly provide their services to migrant workers and that such migrant workers have other options left such as Emirates, Qatar Airways, or even SriLankan Airlines.
A similar response on the stoppage of flight operations by the aforesaid airline was reiterated when The Morning Business contacted Ministry of Tourism Secretary S. Hettiarachchi.
Referring to Kuwait Airways, Hettiarachchi noted: “Depending on the availability of aircraft, it will be operated.”
Kuwait Airways relaunched flights to Colombo on 14 September 2021, following aviation restrictions that were imposed due to the prevailing pandemic. Accordingly, a flight per week was operated to two cities, while the airline affirmed its readiness to restore operations of commercial flights while following health guidelines.
Apart from Colombo, Sri Lanka, flights were relaunched to other destinations in the world such as India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
Kuwait Airways is an international airline which is linked with the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries, the Indian subcontinent, Europe, and the US due to the geographical location of Kuwait.