Sri Lankan start-up Cinnamon Air eyes air taxi market

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A Sri Lankan joint venture wants to begin air taxi services in the country, connecting the capital Colombo to holiday locations.

Saffron Aviation, which is backed by John Keells Holdings, MMBL Leisure Holdings and Phoenix Ventures, will set up Cinnamon Air.

The company has made an initial investment of $6.8 million, says John Keells. The total planned investment could go up to $8.4 million, adds the firm.

Cinnamon Air will operate two Cessna Aircraft 208 Caravan amphibian aircraft and a Cessna 208B Grand Caravan.

The air taxi service will link Colombo's Bandaranaike International Airport with holiday locations on the southwest coast, the east coast, the hill town of Kandy and the new airport at Hambantota.

Flights to and from Colombo will mostly connect with the arrival and departure flight timings of national carrier SriLankan Airlines and other international airlines.

An air taxi service can significantly reduce the time spent by tourists on road transfers between the airport and hotels and on excursions, says John Keells.

Commercial operations are expected to begin in the last quarter of fiscal year 2012, it adds.