Crisis in Ukraine: Sri Lanka hopes to take over Aeroflot

LONDON – Travel authorities in Sri Lanka hope Aeroflot will soon resume services to Colombo from Moscow after the planes grounded saga.

Last June, an Aeroflot Airbus A330 was grounded in Colombo, Sri Lanka, following an arrest warrant issued against the aircraft.

The arrest warrant was issued in the name of Selective Aviation Trading Limited, which aligns itself with aircraft lessor GECAS, as the leasing giant seeks to acquire planes stolen from the Russian government.

This nationalization of aircraft took place through the re-registration of aircraft in the Russian RA register.

Now these planes are flying internationally, this opens up the possibility of groundings happening again, which means lessors will actually be able to get their plane back.

Shortly after, Sri Lankan courts lifted the ban on the Aeroflot Airbus A330 detained days after the plane was grounded in Colombo.

It is also understood that this was the result of political pressure from Russia, with Sri Lanka’s ambassador to Moscow being summoned to the Kremlin for an explanation, according to local media.

A return of Aeroflot?

Such diplomatic quarrels have soured relations between Sri Lanka and Russia, but Aeroflot wants to return to the capital.

A CAA official told the Daily Mirror in Sri Lanka: “They haven’t committed yet. But we believe they plan to resume flights soon. However, they will likely run into the existing issues of jet fuel shortages and remittance issues.”

On top of that, Aeroflot will want to make a comeback to the Sri Lankan capital, especially with UAE-based carrier Flydubai taking up much of its market share since the route was suspended.

Flydubai currently accounts for 35.2% of Russian arrivals in Sri Lanka, with the obvious stopover in Dubai not deterring travelers from heading to the region per se.

That being said; however, Russian tourist arrivals fell to 1,610 in June, representing a substantial decline.

Aeroflot should take what it can get…

In their own interest, Aeroflot should restart operations in the region as soon as possible, because such suspensions will cost them money.

However, the political bureaucracy that will have to be sorted out in order to ensure that the planes are no longer seized will be a subject that the Kremlin and Colombo will certainly discuss.

But, due to sanctions limiting their list of destinations they can fly to, Aeroflot should grab this route by the horns and try to extract some form of revenue from it to limit losses.

Because if they don’t, then it will be a missed opportunity, especially if Flydubai decides to double its frequencies in the region and also in Russia.

Either way, Aeroflot has a decision to make and by looking at it they need to make it quickly. Otherwise, they will only harm each other in the long run.

Christi C. Elwood