SriLankan Airlines suspends all passenger operations
SriLankan Airlines on Wednesday announced a temporary suspension of all of its passenger operations, as the spread of the novel coronavirus hammers global travel demand.
The neighbouring Sri Lanka’s flagship carrier said it will suspend all its passenger operations from April 8-21, but cargo and charter operations will continue.
“Despite various challenges faced by the Airline throughout its four-decade tenure, this is by far the most difficult and unfortunate period that the airline is passing, similar to all its counterparts across the globe and communities in general,” a statement issued by the airline read.
“The airline is constantly reviewing the market conditions and the restrictions imposed by the various authorities and will be ready to recommence its operations at short notice even before the 21st April 2020 in the event such restrictions are lifted.”
Sri Lanka, which has recorded over 430 coronavirus cases, has banned all incoming flights to combat the virus.
The country has also imposed a curfew in certain areas in a bid to control the spread.
SriLankan Airlines operates four daily flights from Bandaranaike International Airport to the Maldives main Velana International Airport, and six flights per week to Gan International Airport in the southernmost Maldives atoll of Addu.
The flagship carrier of neighbouring Sri Lanka is popular amongst tourists travelling to the Maldives from Europe.
Maldives has also taken a series of drastic preventive measures aimed at containing the novel coronavirus outbreak.
The Maldives on Friday enforced a blanket suspension of on-arrival visa in a bid to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Even before the visa suspension, the Maldives had closed its borders to arrivals from some of the worst-hit countries, including mainland China, Italy, Bangladesh, Iran, Spain, the United Kingdom, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. Visitors from three regions of Germany (Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Württemberg), two regions of France (Île-de-France and Grand Est) and two regions of South Korea were also banned from entering the country.
All direct flights to and from China, Italy, South Korea and Iran were also cancelled.
Cruise ships and foreign yachts were also banned from docking at any of the country’s ports.
On March 8, Maldives reported its first cases of the novel coronavirus, as two hotel employees tested positive for Covid-19 at a luxury resort in the archipelago.
Seventeen more cases — all foreigners working or staying resorts and liveaboard vessels except four Maldivians who had returned from the United Kingdom — were later identified.
However, 13 out of the 17 have made full recoveries. The four Maldivian patients are being treated at designated quarantine facilities, whilst the other two had been repatriated to their home country of Italy.
The Maldives announced a state of public health emergency on March 12, the first such declaration under a recent public health protection law.
The public health emergency declaration has allowed the government to introduce a series of unprecedented restrictive and social distancing measures, including a partial curfew in capital Male and its suburbs, and a nationwide closing of schools, colleges and universities. Non-essential services and public places in the capital such as gyms, cinemas and parks have also been shut.
Restaurants and cafes in the capital have been asked to stop dine-in service and switch to takeaway and delivery.
A nationwide shutdown of all guesthouses, city hotels and spa facilities located on inhabited islands is also in effect.