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Business


Mihin Lanka takes off to Thailand in style

Mihin Lanka, the government-owned budget airline, started its operation to Thailand since last Saturday. The inaugural flight to Thailand on Airbus 321 which has 182 economy class and 12 business class seats, carrying nearly 24 journalists, tour operators and hoteliers, reached Suvaranbhumi Airport and were welcomed by the Thailand authorities.

By Sulochana Mohan Ramiah in Bangkok
“The relationship between Thailand and Sri Lanka has been a long-standing one and we are happy to learn about the confidence Mihin Lanka has gained to run a successful service to Thailand three times a week for the benefit of the two countries,” said the Thailand Tourism and Sports Minister, Dr. Suwit Khamkiti, at the inaugural ceremony held in Thailand last Monday. He was welcomed by the Mihin Lanka CEO Sajin de Vass Gunawardana and several airline operation staff and guests.

Mihin Lanka, the government-owned budget airline, started its operation to Thailand since last Saturday. The inaugural flight to Thailand on Airbus 321 which has 182 economy class and 12 business class seats, carrying nearly 24 journalists, tour operators and hoteliers, reached Suvaranbhumi Airport and were welcomed by the Thailand authorities.

The minister further said the budget airline would be a successful operation to promote Buddhist pilgrimages, the most common between both countries.

The CEO Mihin Lanka, said that he is honoured to have taken up this new venture to Thailand. “This service will be for business, pilgrims and holiday-makers and we are planning to expand operations to Singapore, Bahrain, Zurich and Rome in the near future. It was our prime objective to consider Thailand and we appreciate the travel agencies from both countries to have joined in to make it a success”. He further added, that for the operation to be successful about 40,000 passengers per month need to fly. As of now, we have three flights operating to Thailand – on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays per week, but looking forward to increase it to daily flights from August,” he added.

The air buses which offer Sri Lankan Catering Service prepared food, will basically expand service to Bodhagaya in India from the first week of September this year. The airline right now flies to regional destinations, including the Middle East, India and Male with the latest addition to Thailand, to promote foreign job seekers and pilgrims to fly to their destinations at a much lower cost. The airline hopes to expand flight frequencies and the fleet in line with the demand, it was said.

The economy premium class offers wide and spacious seats similar to business class in other airlines. The Mihin Lanka’s two planes are wet-leased.

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Emirates unveils new packages to Mauritius

An idyllic holiday for two in exotic Mauritius, the land of sugar and smiles, has been made affordable to many Sri Lankans by Emirates Holidays, through a series of exciting new packages unveiled in Colombo.
The Destination and Leisure Management Division of Emirates is offering a three-day romantic getaway for two starting at Rs 196,000, inclusive of return air tickets and accommodation of half board basis (breakfast and dinner), to honeymooners and those seeking a well-deserved break.
A choice of 19 selected properties, including three six-star hotels, seven five-star hotels, seven four-star hotels and two three-star properties are available through Emirates Holidays in Colombo, offering options to suit many budgets.
Separately Emirates Holidays is also offering 50 per cent off on a six night stay at the six-star Obeori Mauritius and the five-star Taj Exotica Resort and Spa, under which guests pay for three nights only. This offer is valid till 30th September 2007.
As an added attraction, travellers to Mauritius may also break journey in Dubai and experience the Dubai Summer Surprises festival which is on till August 31, with accommodation rates starting at US$ 50 per person per night on a twin sharing basis.
Devika Ellepola, Emirates Sales Manager in Sri Lanka said: “Many people assume that an overseas honeymoon in a location like Mauritius is beyond their purse. Our intention is to provide quality-guaranteed accommodation and Emirates’ award-winning service at a price that will be music to many ears.”
“These offers provide true value for money,” she added, pointing out that the cost of accommodation on a twin-sharing basis, works out to just US$ 122 per person per night on half board.
Also included in the packages are room taxes and service charges, meet and assist on arrival, and return transfers by private car. To avail of the special rates on offer, all sectors of travel must be on Emirates operated flights.
“Emirates Holidays will also develop customised packages to Mauritius and other destinations for durations of the travellers’ choice,” Mrs Ellepola said. “With Emirates Holidays guaranteeing the quality of all properties and services, and taking care of all arrangements including transfers and excursions, these packages ensure a hassle-free holiday.”
With 330 km of spectacular beaches, almost entirely surrounded by one of the largest unbroken coral reefs in the world, Mauritius fulfills every visitor’s
dream: a tropical island, swaying palms, the dazzling blue ocean, white sandy beaches, sugar cane fields, towering mountains and the leisurely Mauritian way of life. For the active holiday maker, the destination offers diving, snorkeling, sightseeing, shopping, sailing, boat cruises, catamaran sailing, glass bottomed boat rides, golf, spa and beauty treatments, biking, trekking and tennis.
Visas to Mauritius are available locally through the Consulate for Mauritius in Colombo, adding to the attraction of the destination.

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Virgin’s Branson may buy into AirAsia

(AFP) - British billionaire Richard Branson of Virgin Group is touted to be taking a stake in Malaysia’s new AirAsia long-haul budget airline, the Star newspaper reported.
Branson would take a 20 percent stake in Fly Asian Express (FAX), teaming up with Asia’s aviation tycoon Tony Fernandes to run flights from Malaysia to China, Europe and Australia, the newspaper reported citing sources familiar with the negotiations.
It said AirAsia chief executive Fernandes and his deputy Kamarudin Meranum would sell 20 percent of their stake to Branson, the founder of Virgin Group.
Fernandes has a 50 percent stake in FAX, while Kamarudin owns 30 percent.
Although Fernandes had previously denied Branson’s involvement, he admitted that the two parties were in discussions, the newspaper reported.
“I won’t hide the fact that we’re talking, we’re always exchanging ideas, but it is not settled,” Fernandes was quoted as saying by the newspaper in a separate interview.
FAX recently signed a contract for 15 wide-body A330-300 airliners from Airbus, with the first new A330 to be delivered in the third-quarter of 2008.
Each aircraft costs 175 million dollars, and the purchase would be funded with a combination of borrowings and equity.
FAX is scheduled to begin its long-haul flights to China and Australia from September 8, using three leased planes from the low-cost carrier terminal at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), company executives have said.
Fernandes launched AirAsia as a pioneering regional budget carrier in December, 2001, with just two aircraft. It now serves domestic and international routes throughout the region.
Fernandes announced his long-haul plan in January. He is not the first to try budget long-haul travel and analysts say the model remains to be proven despite its success on short-haul flights.

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India is a party – and you’re invited

Travellers under 27 years can now visit India on SriLankan Airlines at airfares starting from as low as 7500 rupees, from June 15 to October 31, 2007. The special youth fare on a return ticket from Colombo to South India and Delhi or Mumbai or Goa in the North starts from Rs. 11,500 and from Colombo direct to Mumbai or Delhi or Goa from Rs. 15,000.

Have you ever wanted to backpack with friends, discover new places and different cultures, go trekking, live on houseboats or savour the adrenaline rush of rock climbing and adventure sports? SriLankan Airlines invites young travellers to take an unforgettable journey this year into the rich and colourful Indian subcontinent.
Travellers under 27 years can now visit India on SriLankan Airlines at airfares starting from as low as 7500 rupees, from June 15 to October 31, 2007. The special youth fare on a return ticket from Colombo to South India and Delhi or Mumbai or Goa in the North starts from Rs. 11,500 and from Colombo direct to Mumbai or Delhi or Goa from Rs. 15,000. The airfares do not include airport taxes and travel agency service fees. The fares are valid for 30 days from the date of travel with a minimum stay of three days.
SriLankan Airlines, the largest carrier into India will fly you to Chennai, Kochi, Bangalore, Kozhikode, Tiruchirapally, Trivandrum or Hyderabad in South India.
Extend your trip with an unforgettable Indian rail journey or even an internal flight to Delhi, Bombay or Goa in the North. Combine the youth fares with special rates on food and accommodation as well as all inclusive packages that include airport transfers and tours, from SriLankan Holidays. Alternatively check out the budget deals at the Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India.
The sights and sounds in India are endless. Camels and caravans in Rajasthan, the breathtaking view from the Nilgiri Moutains in Kerala, the beauty of the Taj Mahal and India’s many temples, forests, snow clad peaks and house boats. You could also visit India’s top universities, be an extra in a film in the Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad and bask in a moment of fame, feel the adrenaline rush of rock climbing or bungee jumping or enjoy the night life of India’s metropolitan cities. It’s time to pack your bags and join the party.
Record your adventures, memories and escapades, share notes and travel tips on an online blog that will soon be up on www.b4ur27.com. Visit the website for further information on SriLankan Airlines special youth offers. The airline flies 90 times a week to ten destinations in India.

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Shuttle flights to connect Tokyo, Shanghai in October

(AFP) - Japan and China agreed Monday to launch shuttle flights between Tokyo and Shanghai from October amid rapidly growing business links.
Flights from Tokyo to China currently fly only from Narita International Airport, some 70 kilometers (45 miles) outside the Japanese capital.
The shuttle flights will run between Tokyo’s Haneda, a largely domestic hub which is Asia’s busiest airport, and Shanghai’s Hongqiao airport.
“Japan and China agreed to start four shuttle flights a day -- two flights from each country -- this year, if possible from around October 8,” Japan’s Transport Minister Tetsuzo Fuyushiba said.
They also agreed to prepare to launch shuttle flights between Tokyo and Beijing during next year’s Olympics.
Fuyushiba made the announcement in a statement after talks in Beijing with Yang Guoqing, deputy director of the Chinese General Administration of Civil Aviation.
The two countries agreed in general terms to start the shuttle flights during an April visit to Japan by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao aimed at consolidating warming relations.
Mainland China became Japan’s top commerical partner in the past financial year, outpacing the United States, as Japanese companies turn to the Asian economy looking for hubs both for production and consumers.
Tokyo’s government has been looking to expand international flights from Haneda, which is the world’s fourth largest airport. It already has shuttle flights to Seoul.

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Japanese group on cultural exchange tour

Twenty one visitors from Japan arrived in Sri Lanka on June 18, on a Cultural Exchange Tour organised by the WADA Company of Japan. Their 5-day tour included the Cultural Triangle and Kandy.
The group was hosted to a Gala Dinner at the Ceddar Room of the Cinnamon Grand Hotel on June 21, at which Deputy Minister of Tourism Faizer Mustapha was present. Entertainment provided gave the visitors an insight into the culture of Sri Lanka including Kandyan dancers and drummers, a live band and an exchange of Kimono and the Sri Lankan national dress which was handed over by the Deputy Minister of Tourism.
“The visit of this group from Japan is a positive step in the promotion of similar groups scheduled to visit Sri Lanka in the near future,” said Irfan Farook, Managing Director of Lanka Vacations (Pvt.) Limited, handling agents for the group in Sri Lanka.

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