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AirAsia Philippines starts seafarer flights to Sri Lanka’s Mattala airport

ECONOMYNEXT – AirAsia Philippines had started operating seafarer repatriation flights to Sri Lanka’s Mattala Airport as the island serves as a hub for the global shipping industry to change crews.

The first AirAsia Phillippines charter had landed at Mattala Airport on August 09 at 1350hours local time, Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Ltd, the state-airport agency said.

“Since the COVID19 pandemic has been controlled within the country, Sri Lanka has been able to come to the aid of the international shipping community by being a safe location for facilitating the change of ship crew, which is critical for the safe operation of ships,” AASL said.

“In light of this opportunity, Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA) – the largest international airport serving Southeast Sri Lanka, is poised to become a hub for international ship crew changes.”

AirAsia Philippines Z28161 will depart on August 10 with 14 Filipino seafarers, after bringing 13 replacement crew.

Mack Air, the general sales agent for AirAsia and Ceyline Shipping Ltd had co-rdinated the crew change.

AASL had been facilitating crew changes with ships calling at Galle Harbhour in the South or to regular callers in Colombo.

Over 50 repatriation and seafarer flights have been operated out of Mattala since the last week of June, the AASL had said.

The crew changes are carried out according to guidelines of Sri Lanka Health Authorities.

Sri Lanka had controlled the spread of Coronavirus in the community, with aggressive tracing and quarantine.

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Testing which had gaps initially had been ramped up. Sri Lanka health authorities say there is no community transmission but to reduce the risk of flare ups from earlier clusters social distancing is in place and the public have to wear masks. (Colombo/Aug10/2020)