By Gaurav Joshi/www.simpleflying.com
Colombo, February 27: Sri Lanka’s latest low-cost startup airline FitsAir has started flights on the popular Colombo-Chennai sector.
The airline started commercial passenger flights last year, with Dubai as its first destination. Several cities in South India are being considered by FitsAir as possible destinations, with the region traditionally supplying a steady flow of traffic into Sri Lanka.
On February 20th, Sri Lankan low-cost carrier FitsAir launched a service between Colombo and Chennai. The airline deployed its Airbus A320 aircraft between the two cities as flight 8D831, which landed in Chennai at around 10:15. The return flight, 8D832, flew back after about an hour.
Currently, this will be a thrice-a-week service on Monday, Thursday, and Friday, which will be made into a daily flight in April. The Colombo-Chennai sector is a popular route with airlines as there is a perennial demand for flights. Air India, IndiGo, and SriLankan Airlines all have daily services between the two destinations.
FitsAir began flights to Dubai last year and has expanded to the Maldives and Chennai since then. The carrier’s vice-president Peter Murray Hill had commented last year that it is exploring opportunities in several key cities in South India. Besides Chennai, FitsAir is looking to offer service to Thiruvananthapuram, Coimbatore, Kochi, and Madurai.
Initially, the airline had planned to start services between Colombo and Tiruchi in December with three weekly flights on Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, but that had to be postponed due to operational reasons. The airline is also keen to launch flights from Tiruchi to Jaffna and the Chennai – Jaffna sector this year using its ATR 72 aircraft.
FitsAir is Sri Lanka’s first privately-owned carrier and is backed by Aberdeen Holdings. The airline is a successor of what was formerly called ExpoAviation or ExpoAir. ExpoAir started business approximately 25 years ago, in 1997, as a cargo carrier, when the first operations were conducted with a leased cargo aircraft flying from Sri Lanka to the Maldives.
With the rebranding from ExpoAir to FitsAir, the airline wants to make air travel within Sri Lanka more affordable and is focusing on the basic product of giving a comfortable seat to get its passengers to their destination with minimum or no fuss where possible. Per ch-aviation, FitsAir currently has one active Airbus A320 airplane and one ATR72-200 plane.
Airlines are keen to expand operations in Sri Lanka following the difficult two years of the pandemic. India’s only government-owned airline Alliance Air also resumed flights between Chennai and Jaffna in north Sri Lanka in December. These flights were started in November 2019 and ran for around four months before COVID forced Alliance Air to drop the route.
Sri Lanka’s national carrier SriLankan Airlines, too, is seeing a rise in demand across network, with India remaining its number one market and Australia bouncing back strongly, surpassing the levels seen in 2019.