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Sri Lanka airline readying to start scheduled flights in June 01

AFRICAN AIRLIFT: Three SriLankan Airlines discharging supplies at O R Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa.

ECONOMYNEXT – State-run SriLankan Airlines is getting ready to resume scheduled flights by June if health authorities give the go head, Chairman Ashok Pathirage said as the carrier is battling a to survive a Coronavirus crisis.

“We are working with Airport and Aviation Services to resume our scheduled commercial flights by the first of June,” Pathirage told an online forum organized by Sri Lanka’s National Chamber of Commerce.

“We can be ready, but it is up to the government and health authorities… they will have to evaluate and tell us when this could be possible.”

SriLankan stopped scheduled flights as airports closed and travel restrictions came in.

Pathirage said airports are gradually opening up. India had just given the nod to resume domestic flights.

“We have to learn to live with this pandemic,” Pathirage said. “I do not think we think this is going to go away in three months.

“We have to take all the important measures and walk with this. We have to think about the economy and the government revenues side.”

Lockdown curfews have brought many economic activities to a halt and the fiscal deficit is expected rise in 2020. The government has selectively let many businesses operate.

The airline is now selling tickets on a few flights to Japan, Hong Kong and London, which are operated to bring back SriLankans or take cargo.

SriLankan is also operating to over two dozen airports carrying cargo from Sri Lanka. It is also carrying cargo for third countries. Last week SriLankan airlifted supplies to South Africa.

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Sri Lanka has aggressively contact traced and contained infections though the effort was partially de-railed after infected sailors were given leave and allowed to cross district lines during curfews.

Sailors who were involved in contact tracing and quarantine work were also not tested due to reluctance to test anyone outside of existing clusters linked to symptomatic index cases. The gaps have since been closed.

Though Sri Lanka is ahead of many countries in fighting Coronavirus, the island’s economy has been hit by monetary instability which started shortly before the Coronavirus crises.

Sri Lanka printed money and cut rates from late February and cut rates before the pandemic started triggering a currency panic sending the rupee crashing to 200 to the US dollar from 182 to the US dollar before rate cuts and money printing.

However private consumption and credit has fallen after a lockdown curfews reducing demand. After printing money authorities also slapped import controls. (Colombo/May16/2020)