The first flight between Colombo and Melbourne in 17 years, and now the only nonstop service to connect Sri Lanka and Australia, has touched down at Tullamarine.
Among the passengers on board the flight, which kicked off a daily service on the route, were dignitaries including Sri Lankan State Minister for State Enterprise Development, The Hon. Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, SriLankan Airlines CEO Captain Suren Ratwatte, and cricketing superstars Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene.
Speaking at a gala dinner at Crown Casino to mark the event, SriLankan Airlines manager Australia and NZ Sanjeeva Jayatileke gave a big thank you to UL’s preferred travel agents, tour operators, and other trade partners.
“We look forward to collaborating with our travel fraternity here today, to make this operation a huge success,” he said, in a nod to the airline’s vital travel industry links.
Meanwhile, SriLankan Airlines chairman Mr Ajith Dias lauded his nation’s 70-year aviation history, the carrier’s network of some 45 destinations in around 15 countries, and its supply of flights to India, telling agents and operators they now had a seamless connection to its neighbour.
Speaking exclusively to Traveltalk, Australian-Sri Lankan celebrity chef Peter Kuruvita said the airline’s new service to Melbourne would be perfect for Aussie travellers, with convenient flight and connection times in and out of Tullamarine.
As well as allowing travellers to depart Melbourne on the same day, he said the new service would give tourists the chance to experience the Victorian capital too.
Along with his work as a celebrated chef, Kuruvita leads tours to Sri Lanka, which he labels a wonderful and safe destination for families, among many other things. “So the package is now complete with SriLankan Airlines,” he said.
During the gala, guests were treated to an amazing Sri Lankan dinner curated by Kuruvita, as well as incredible entertainment from Sri Lankan dancers (who had flown in from Colombo), local and international singing stars, and even The Seekers’ Keith Potger (who was born in Sri Lanka).
With a capacity of around 283 passengers, SriLankan will utilize an A300-200 on the new route. Flights depart Melbourne at 4.55pm and arrive in Colombo at 10.15pm. Return flights depart Sri Lanka at 11.50am and arrive in Tullamarine at 3.25pm.