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SriLankan Airlines halves Chennai flights on violence
Feizal Samath, Colombo, March 20, 2013

SRI Lanka's national airline has slashed Chennai-bound flights from 28 to 14 services a week following a spate of attacks on visiting Buddhist monks and pilgrims.


Last week, SriLankan Airlines reported a drop in traffic between the two cities due to the recent developments in Tamil Nadu.


Sri Lanka’s Ministry of External Affairs last week urged nationals travelling to Tamil Nadu to be cautious after recent attacks by pro-Tamil extremist groups targeting Sri Lankans.


The violence was triggered by accusations that the Sri Lankan government has been lackadaisical towards the needs of local, minority Tamils who have had long-standing cultural and family links with Chennai.  


Shiromal Cooray, managing director at Jetwing Travels, said her company had seen a fall in demand for travel to Chennai, which travellers must pass through to access religious sites like Bodh Gaya, where Budhha was said to have attained enlightenment, or Velankanni, home to a famous Catholic church.


Sasi Ganeshan, CEO, VMS Travels, added that 90 per cent of passengers on SriLankan flights to Chennai is pilgrim traffic and the “impact of fewer flights would be enormous”.


Jet Airways and SpiceJet also ply the route but at a much lower frequency. The carriers have not altered their schedules as yet.


SriLankan said it was “closely observing the situation and (would) take further action if necessary”.

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