Creating aviation history in Sri Lanka a consortium of local and foreign investors would be launching what would be the country’s first comprehensive airline owned by the private sector. It will be named Spark Air.
Head of Safety Management System, Capt. Uditha Danwatte said that they have already inked agreements to acquire two A 330 aircrafts for the operation which is expected to take wings in early February 2021 after receiving IATA approval.
Outlining their plans he said that they will be initially launching flights to Asia and Europe mainly targeting cargo since passenger operations are too early to commence due to the COVID pandemic. “Spark Air will have some technical modification of their aircraft to increase cargo facility.”
“We have identified 15 international destinations to be included in our radar which include Los Angeles. When the pandemic settles we plan to operate as a full service airline mainly targeting new destinations that are currently not serviced from Colombo.”
He said that the management plans to take the two aircraft on dry lease since over 350 pilots and thousands of experienced airline crew are grounded due to COVID. “Similarly the management thought that this is also the best time to go in for airline leases since the conditions are very favorable.”
Spark Air will be basing their hub in Mattala Rajapaksa Airport and have already taken space for two hangers and for a cargo storage facility. “We plan to start recruitment by December and will be opening out our sales office in Colombo in January.”
A former pilot of the Sri Lanka Air Force with many bravery medals to his credit and then served SriLankan and Mihin Lanka he said that he was disappointed in the manner in which Mihin Lanka was shut down when it showed signs of turning around. “Similarly it was a very imprudent move to pull out Sri Lankan from profit making routes in Europe since most of these flights were operating with nearly 99% seat factor.”
Having joined Air Asia after the shutdown of Mihin Lanka he said that it was sad to see so many planes grounded due to the covid pandemic all over the world.
Danwatte together with his son, created aviation history by flying an Air Asia flight to Sri Lanka becoming the only father and son pilot combination to fly a foreign flag carrier to Colombo and back to Kuala Lumpur.
He said that the responsible and supporting manner in which the Airport Aviation supported them was very encouraging and the management had confidence that the new government would maintain longer investment policies. “Due to this, we will go ahead with opening a MRO (Airline repairing facility) in MRIA generating over 500 employment opportunities. This too will take off next year.”