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Russia restores Sri Lanka’s largest charter airline

President Vladimir Putin has ordered an increase in the number of flights between Moscow and “friendly states”, the Russian embassy in Sri Lanka announced on Thursday, the day Russia’s largest charter airline resumed flights to Colombo. An Azur Air flight arrived at the Bandaranaike International Airport here with 335 passengers on board, according to media reports.

“IMPORTANT: Russian President Vladimir #Putin has ordered the Russian government to increase the number of flights between #Russia and friendly countries!@LKARSGOV,” the Russian Embassy in Colombo tweeted on Thursday.

Sri Lanka’s Tourism Minister Harin Fernando said on Twitter that Swiss International Air Lines is scheduled to resume weekly flights to Sri Lanka from November 10.

Last month, Russian flag carrier Aeroflot resumed commercial operations in Sri Lanka, more than four months after the airline suspended flights to the island nation after authorities briefly detained a plane there due to a legal dispute.

On June 2, Aeroflot Airbus Flight AU 289, scheduled to depart from Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport to Moscow with 191 passengers and 13 crew members on board, was grounded as the aircraft’s owner, Celestial Aviation of Ireland, filed a lawsuit against the airline pending arbitration about renting a plane in London.

Following the dispute, Aeroflot suspended service between Moscow and Colombo on 4 June.

In protest at the grounding of the flight, the Russian Foreign Ministry summoned the Sri Lankan envoy in Moscow to express its displeasure.

Russia remains Sri Lanka’s third largest tourism source market as of today with around 51,300 arrivals, behind India and the UK.

Sri Lanka is going through its worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1948.

The economic crisis has led to an acute shortage of foreign exchange reserves, forcing Sri Lankans to wait for months in queues outside shops to buy fuel and cooking gas.



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