LONDON – Travel authorities in Sri Lanka are hoping that Aeroflot will resume services to Colombo from Moscow soon, following the grounded aircraft saga.
Back in June, an Aeroflot Airbus A330 was grounded in Colombo, Sri Lanka, following an arrest warrant being issued for the aircraft.
The arrest warrant was issued on behalf of Selective Aviation Trading Limited, which is in alignment with aircraft lessor GECAS, as the leasing giant looks to acquire some aircraft stolen by the Russian Government.
Such nationalization of aircraft took place through the re-registering of aircraft back to the Russian registry of RA.
Now, these aircraft are doing international flights, this does open up the potential for groundings to occur once again, meaning the lessors will actually be able to get their aircraft back.
Shortly after, the Sri Lankan courts lifted the ban on the detained Aeroflot Airbus A330 days after the aircraft was grounded in Colombo.
It is also understood that this was a result of political pressure from Russia, with the Sri Lankan Ambassador in Moscow being summoned to the Kremlin for an explanation, according to local media.
An Aeroflot Return?
Such diplomatic rows have created a worsened relationship between Sri Lanka and Russia, but Aeroflot is interested in returning to the capital.
A CAA official told the Daily Mirror in Sri Lanka: “They have not committed yet. But we believe they are planning on resuming flights soon. However, they will likely run into the existing issues of jet fuel shortage and fund repatriation issues”.
On top of this, Aeroflot will want to make a comeback to the Sri Lankan capital, especially with UAE-based carrier Flydubai occupying a lot of their market share since the route suspension.
Flydubai currently accounts for 35.2% of Russian arrivals into Sri Lanka, with the obvious stopover in Dubai not putting travelers off from traveling to the region per se.
That being said; however, Russian tourist arrivals fell to 1,610 in June, which is a substantial decrease.
Aeroflot Should Take What They Can Get…
In their own interest, Aeroflot should restart operations in the region sooner rather than later, as such suspensions will cost them money.
However, the political red tape that will need to be sorted in order to ensure aircraft don’t get seized again will be something the Kremlin and Colombo will definitely discuss.
But, because of sanctions limiting their list of destinations they can fly to, Aeroflot should grab this route by the horns and try to secure some form of revenue off it to limit losses.
Because if they don’t, then it will be an opportunity missed, especially if Flydubai decides to double down on frequencies into the region and also into Russia as well.
Either way, Aeroflot has a decision to make and looking at it, they need to make it quickly. Otherwise, they will only be damaging themselves in the long term.