AASL denies Rs 6M was spent

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Airport and Aviation Services Sri Lanka Private Limited said, the Maldivian inaugural flight event at Colombo International Airport Ratmalana (CIAR) did not cost Rs 6 million, and refuted the news item published by Ceylon Today on 31 March.

According to AASL, “The inaugural event was entirely funded by the private sector for marketing purposes, with no cost to AASL or the Government of Sri Lanka and the activity was carried out in a transparent manner, contrary to what the newspaper said.”

They also said even though the newspaper said they did not follow a marketing strategy, the airline conducted a feasibility study and that the flight would recommence after the Ramadan period with an increased frequency. 

AASL Chairman, Major General G.A. Chandrasiri further said in the letter dated 31 March, Maldivian officially commenced international regional flights on 27 March 2022 with the plan to operate scheduled flights between Ratmalana and the Maldives. The date 27 March was selected, as it is the beginning of the airline summer flight schedule and accordingly, the flights began on 27 March even though there was going to be a temporary halt until the end of Ramadan, which was notified to them on inspection. 

The purpose of organising an inaugural flight on 27 March was to popularise the Ratmalana Airport as a preferred airport among the targeted regional international airlines that have been identified and international private corporate jets and the aerodrome is fully certified as an international airport. 

“Therefore, the news article was published without proper clarification from the AASL and the article is misleading the public,” the AASL said. 

Reporter’s Note: There was no mention of a temporary suspension of the Maldivian flight in the inaugural day press release. Also, the AASL noted that “flights began on 27 March,” whereas only the inaugural flight by Maldivian was launched to date and no other flights. The Maldivian ticketing office in Colombo said the next flight would depart on 3 May to Malé at 9:30 a.m., but when Ceylon Today attempted to book a ticket, it said the service was unavailable. 

When the Maldivian ticketing office in Colombo was informed about online ticketing not operating, they requested that the passenger’s personal information be emailed. Customers would expect all of these to be in place when the airport begins operations, whether it is international or regional. On the Rs 6 million spent, Ceylon Today would like to know who had spent and how much was it, for public knowledge.