Sri Lanka runway closure to cut seat capacity by 15-pct

ECONOMYNEXT – An eight-hour daytime closure of Sri Lanka’s main airport next year to rebuild its sole will cut seat capacity to the country by 15 percent, a top airline official said, which could slow tourism growth in the first half of next year.

For three months beginning January 5, the airport will be closed from 8.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. as repair crews break and re-surface the runway, section by section.

Airlines including state-run SriLankan Airlines, which is the largest user of the airport, are re-scheduling flights to accommodate the closure.

SriLankan Chairman Ajith Dias said the closure is expected to cut seat capacity to the country by 15 percent during this period.

It may hurt the expansion of Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals, which has grown on the back of expanding seat capacity and start-up hotel accommodation, which was built after the end of the war in 2009.

So far this year, arrivals were up 16 percent.

Airlines typically have to fill about 80 percent of available seats (seat factor) or higher to keep a route viable. (Colombo/Sept08/2016)

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