ExpoAir Resumes Colombo – Jaffna flights, and a look at the Sri Lankan domestic market

 ExpoAir (IATA:8D) from 1st February, resumes operation on Colombo – Jaffna, Sri Lanka’s prime domestic route. The airline will operate twice daily from the Ratmalana Airport (RML) in Colombo City.

EXV711 RML 0700 – 0815 JAF CNC D
EXV713 RML 1500 – 1615 JAF CNC D

EXV712 JAF 0845 – 1000 RML CNC D
EXV714 JAF 1645 – 1800 RML CNC D

 ExpoAir primarily operates as a cargo airline and withdrew from the Sri Lankan domestic market some time ago. The airline last operated this route using Fokker 27-500 equipment. Sri Lanka’s domestic air travel market has seen a rapid expansion as well as a number of new operators recently, following the end of a war against terrorism in 2009. 

 The two largest operators in the Sri Lankan domestic market at present are, SriLankan AirTaxi (IATA:UL) and Helitours. SriLankan AirTaxi is the domestic unit of SriLankan Airlines, which presently operates with DHC6 floatplanes, while Helitours is the commercial unit of Sri Lanka Air Force.

 The following map depicts the present domestic route map of Sri Lanka. I have referred to Colombo Ratmalana Airport (RML) as Colombo Domestic to differentiate it from the main international airport. In red is the Ratmalana – Jaffna route, which is presently flown by Helitours with scheduled flights as well as by a number of other airlines on a charter basis. This is also the route which aforementioned ExpoAir will soon begin operation on.
 In green are the routes presently operated by SriLankan AirTaxi (as of this writing). Shown in green ‘crosshairs’ are the floatplane-dromes that it is operating into. While the routes are shown as originating from Colombo, CMB – the floatplane routes in fact originate from a floatplane-drome nearby the city centre of Colombo – which puts it in equal distance between both Colombo, CMB and Colombo, RML airports.
 In blue are the routes operated at the time of writing by Helitours.

 The following map shows Tiruchirapally in southern India for reference.

 Jaffna (JAF) in the Northern Peninsular was in fact an international airport till the early 1980s, when its operations were halted due to the terrorist activities in Northern Sri Lanka. Prior to this, then national carrier of Sri Lanka, Air Ceylon used to operate a number of routes into India from Jaffna, while Indian Airlines too is known to have operated into Jaffna. Until the opening of Colombo Bandaranaike Airport (CMB) in 1969, Colombo Ratmalana (RML) airport was the key international airport in Colombo. While Ratmalana operated some cargo flights in early 2000s, the shorter runway at the airport has made it unfavorable for jet aircraft, and at present the airport is being planned to be converted into a business airport with an extension of the runway.
 Koggala (KCT) airport at one time catered to the world’s longest nonstop flight, operated by Qantas Catalina Flying boats from Perth. Known popularly as “The Double Sunrise“, this route formed the vital air link between Australia and England during the 1943-1945 era. The flight between Perth and Koggala could take anywhere between 27-33 hours at this time.
 With the dawn of peace, major investments in aviation facilities, and a growing economy, Sri Lanka’s domestic aviation sector sure looks to have a brighter future ahead.

Some additional information about the Sri Lankan domestic aviation scene can be found in this section from yours truly’s Airline Industry Review website.

Maps generated by the awesome Great Circle Mapper tool

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