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SRILANKAN AIRLINES TO LAUNCH SERVICES TO MOSCOW

SriLankan Airlines will start a new service to Moscow on September 15, making the Russian capital the airline’s 52nd destination.

The new service will operate via Dubai, and will commence initially with two flights a week on Thursdays and Saturdays, the national carrier said in a statement.
“This will be the first time our national carrier has served Russia,” SriLankan Airlines Chairman Nishantha Wickremasinghe said.

SriLankan Airlines has been expanding steadily over the past several months, and launched services to Shanghai last July, Guangzhou in January, and Kochi in March.

It will acquire at least six aircraft this year and has been increasing capacity throughout its global route network since last December.

Tourism to Sri Lanka has been booming since the end of the island’s 30-year ethnic war in May 2009.

Tourist arrivals grew by 34 percent in the first quarter of 2011, after hitting an all-time record of 654,000 in 2010.

Tourist arrivals from Russia grew by 21 percent in the first quarter of 2011, and by 22 percent from other countries in Eastern Europe.

The airline said it already serves five European cities – London, Paris, Frankfurt, Rome and Milan – with plans to commence services to several more.

“Asia is fast becoming a favourite destination for travelers from Russia, the world’s fastest growing outbound tourist market,” the statement said.

“SriLankan is also the largest carrier into the Maldives, which is another favourite among Russian travelers.”

SriLankan operates six flights per day into Male, which is just over an hour’s flying time from Colombo.

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