Emirates says ‘wouldn’t turn down’ a partnership proposal from SriLankan Airlines


By Sanath Nanayakkare  in Dubai

If a positive proposal is put to us to partner with SriLankan Airlines we will never turn it down,  Ahmed Hashim Khoori , senior vice president- West Asia and Indian Ocean Commercial Operations of the Emirates Group told The Island  Financial Review on Tuesday at the Emirates Group headquarters in Dubai.

Asked whether the government of Sri Lanka has approached the Emirates Airline with a proposal for partnership with SriLankan Airlines, Ahmed said, "I don't know whether my bosses at the higher level of decision making have been approached in this regard. At my level, I don't know, but if a positive proposal is made, we will never turn it down, he said.On being requested for a more concrete response, Ahmed said , "Not only from SriLankan Airlines, we will review any positive proposal from any airline or airport".During the 45- minute one-on-one interview with a group of local journalists, the Emirates vice president mentioned that his company has a very good relationship with the Sri Lanka Transport Ministry and airport officials.  "At the recent inaugural one-off arrival of the Emirates A380 to the Katunayake International Airport, the Sri Lankan Transport Minister made inspiring remarks about our bilateral relationship. I think that the Sri Lankan government and the Cabinet are 'driven' by this stance, he noted.

"It's always hard to negotiate bilateral arrangements with airlines as national carriers place hurdles and restrictions on competitive, fantastic products such as Emirates. Here in Dubai we have an open-sky policy. But In most countries in the world that is not the case, they have restrictions on the frequency of other airlines operating in and out or on seat-sales".

"We're doing well in Sri Lanka and the county  has vast potential for growth in the aviation industry with the potential boom in foreign investments. The quality of your national passenger traffic has increased as there are more and more Sri Lankans doing jobs in other countries who move in and out. So we bring in a lot if economic value to Sri Lanka, Ahmed said.

"The Sri Lankan government is keen on making Colombo a transit hub. Commercially speaking,  If we get the right to fly from Colombo to other destinations such as Bangkok, it'd be a positive sign for us. And the Katunayake runway is now fit for bigger flights like Emirates A380s to operate. The rest of it would need to be politically driven, he pointed out.

Meanwhile, Maryam Al Mehairi of Emirates Communications said," There are no immediacy plans by Emirates to sign up for any partnership".

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