Govt. invites eois for private airline operators

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By 2018-01-12

By Ravi Ladduwahetty

The Government has called for Expressions of Interest (EoIs) from private airline operators to establish domestic passenger services in Sri Lanka. This ambitious venture will be operated through the National Agency for Public Private Partnerships, coming under the aegis of the Ministry of Finance and Mass Media, in collaboration with the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation.

Ministry of Finance National Agency for Public Private Partnership Chairman Thilan Wijesinghe told Ceylon FT yesterday that the proposed strategic move was to buttress the country's tourism product, while also adding value to domestic airports, which are relatively unoccupied.

Wijesinghe, himself a former Chairman of the Board of Investment, said, "Operators will be flying in their planes carrying tourists out of Katunayake to other airports such as Weerawila, Ratmalana, Hingurakgoda, Trincomalee and Koggala, etc., which will drastically slash their transit times in sharp contrast to travelling by road."
He said that the cornerstone of the project would be to get private investors to decide on which airport to operate and then provide the EoIs.

He stressed that the investors were not required to operate the airport, but only to operate the planes.
"The Government will retain ownership of these airports and operate them," he stressed, debunking speculation that the airports would be for up for sale.
"This will be a scheduled service where any passenger will have access to scheduled flights where they will be aware of on what day and times the flights will take off and land," he said.

"This is also in sharp contrast to charter flights, which have no regular programme and which have hitherto run akin to 'flying by night'." Investors are required to be reputed and experienced international, local or joint venture business enterprises, with the latter having Sri Lankan shareholding.
They are also required to operate daily flights out of the Bandaranaike International Airport and the Ratmalana Airport as their bases to select their other airports and/or a hop on/hop off service involving multiple airports, Wijesinghe explained.
Another salient feature is that they are required to have a comprehensive cover in respect of crew, passengers, baggage and cargo, in conformity with the provisions in the Montreal Convention of 1999.

They should also be in position to provide a minimum of two Turbo aircraft having not less than 12 passenger seats and the aircraft are required to hold Type Certificates issued by the FAA or EASA.
Shortlisted parties may be requested to respond to a detailed Request for Proposals, which is currently under preparation, Wijesinghe remarked.

They are also required to demonstrate experience in domestic aviation in Sri Lanka or any other country and the ability to procure such experience.

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