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HomeNewsSri Lanka mulls open skies policy amid national carrier privatization plans

Sri Lanka mulls open skies policy amid national carrier privatization plans

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The Sri Lankan government is soliciting bids to privatise or restructure its national carrier, Sri Lankan Airlines, as it deliberates the adoption of an open skies policy. This strategic move aims to invigorate tourism and position the nation as a pivotal air travel hub in the region. However, the decision regarding open skies remains pending, as authorities assess its potential implications on domestic interests and global connectivity.

Under the purview of the Ministry of Finance, Economic Stabilisation, and National Policies, a Request for Qualification (RfQ) has been issued to prospective investors for acquiring shares in Sri Lanka Airlines Limited. The deadline for proposal submissions was April 22. This initiative seeks to enhance profitability, further catalysed by the recent acquisition of Rajpaksa International Airport by Indian and Russian consortiums.

The received RfQs underwent evaluation by the Opening Committee appointed by the Special Cabinet Appointed Negotiating Committee. Notably, a total of six RfQs were tendered by entities such as AirAsia Consulting Sdn. Bhd., Dharshaan Elite Investment Holding (Pvt) Ltd., FITS Aviation (Private) Limited, Sherisha Technologies Private Limited, Treasure Republic Guardians Limited, and Hayleys PLC.

Simultaneously, deliberations are underway regarding the potential adoption of an open skies policy in Sri Lanka. The government appears to be grappling with this decision, as articulated by an official involved in the divestiture of Sri Lanka Airlines’ shares.

Should the open skies policy be embraced, the significance of a national carrier may diminish, as global airlines would operate within the country’s airspace based on economic and commercial viability. Nevertheless, maintaining a national carrier remains imperative to ensure service continuity, particularly during periods of unattractive commercial conditions when other airlines may withdraw operations.

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“Weighing the merits and demerits of such a policy is essential. We are yet to reach a definitive stance,” remarked a senior government official.

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