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Air Deccan's Lanka subsidiary to offer low-cost travel option

Ashwini Phadnis

New Delhi , Nov. 17

DECCAN Lanka, a subsidiary of Air Deccan will soon start operating regular low-cost flights from Colombo to a number of nearby international destinations including Kochi, Singapore and Sharjah.

Sources told Business Line that the licence of `Deccan Lanka,' the Sri Lanka registered company of Air Deccan, has been approved by the island state's aviation authorities. The new airline hopes to take to the skies within the next six months, initially with three Airbus A-320 aircraft.

"As the new airline will be a Sri Lankan company, it will operate under their laws and will operate on short haul routes from Colombo. The airline can fly from Colombo to Kochi and other Indian cities and then offer connections to the passenger to other nearby international destinations," sources said.

The decision comes shortly after the Sri Lankan Government allowed airlines other than the national airline, SriLankan, to start operating regular international flights from Colombo.

While 52 per cent of the equity in the new joint venture company is held by Air Deccan, the rest is held by two other entities including a company floated by the son of former Sri Lankan politician, Mr Gamini Dissanaike.

When contacted the Managing Director of Air Deccan, Captain G.R. Gopinath refused to comment on the new project. Air Deccan had applied to the Sri Lankan Government for a charter licence almost two years back. The company already has one helicopter stationed in Sri Lanka.

Interestingly, Air Deccan cannot operate on international routes from India as yet. At present the Government rules lay down that an airline has to operate in the domestic market for five years before it is eligible to fly regular international flights. The airline took to the skies in August 2003 with ATR aircraft that offered regular connections to the smaller cities. Exactly a year later it launched flights on metro routes using an Airbus A-320 aircraft.

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