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SLFP opposes Mihin Lanka closure

Arundika Fernando
The SLFP yesterday said it was opposed to the decision to close down Sri Lanka’s budget airline Mihin Lanka or merge it with the national carrier SriLankan as Mihin Lanka had become a profitable venture.

Addressing the media at the SLFP headquarters, flanked by party spokesman Dilan Perera, former pilot officer cum Deputy Minister of Tourism and Christian Affairs Arundika Fernando said that if the subject minister Kabir Hashim did not like the name of the budget airline he could change it without closing down the venture.

He said that at the beginning the Mihin Lanka was an unprofitable state owned company and incurred a losses but it became a profitable venture eventually.

Fernando said that according to the world aeronautical standards 150 were employed for one aircraft, but Mihin Lanka operated four aircraft with a total of 300 employees and that was an achievement.

He said shutting down the country’s only budget airline would severely affect the Buddhist pilgrims visiting Bodh Gaya and they would have to pay more to fly there on other airlines

Fernando said Sri Lanka could simply attract regional tourists with Mihin Lanka, but that opportunity too would be missed if it was shut down.

"At present, Sri Lanka’s domestic civil aviation is handled by Sri Lanka Air Force, but it could attract foreign tourists with a budget airline like Mihin Lanka to operate domestic flights in addition to their international operations," the deputy minister said.