Sri Lanka's government is planning to buy two Chinese-built MA60 turboprops, and may give these to the country's second state-owned carrier Mihin Lanka.

The government has said publicly it plans to buy the two MA60s, says Mihin Lanka head of commercial, Rohana Perera. It could have Mihin Lanka operate the aircraft on domestic routes, he adds.

The main route it might serve is Colombo-Jaffna, while the other domestic destination it is considering is Trincomalee in the east, says Perera.

Jaffna, in the island's far north, was cut off from the rest of the country for many years due to the civil war. The Sri Lankan Government, ensconced in Colombo in the south, fought a long war against the Tamil Tiger rebels that held Jaffna and the north.

Mihin Lanka started operations in 2007 and is named after Sri Lanka's president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, who in May claimed victory over the Tamil Tigers following a series of military victories.

The airline operates internationally using a wet-leased Airbus A320 from SriLankan Airlines, the country's larger state-owned carrier.

Perera says the airline is seeking to get a second A320 this year or early next year and wants it on dry-lease.

The airline today serves destinations in India, as well as Kuwait and Dubai in the Middle East. Perera says it plans to use the second A320 to launch services to more overseas destinations and is eyeing Dhaka in Bangladesh and the Maldives.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news