74 men and eight women make up the Special Rhino Protection Force that now guards the vulnerable creatures at Kaziranga National Park
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SriLankan Airlines (SLA), the national carrier of Sri Lanka, has announced the operation of 18 flights a week between New Delhi and capital Colombo, starting July 4, 2019. At a press conference in the Taj Palace Hotel in New Delhi, Chinthaka Weerasinghe, Manager, Northern India, shared that his government had observed a growing interest among north Indians to visit Sri Lanka—for destination weddings, MICE trips, and a break from landlocked monotony. Over 400,000 Indians visited the island nation last year; alongside an air service agreement between the two countries, this prompted the airline to add more weekly flights to a formerly single-digit roster. Weerasinghe added that Sri Lanka was a prime stopover for holiday-goers flying to Australia and the Maldives, and the 18 flights would make things easier.
SLA’s India operations are currently in collaboration with Air India and Vistara. CEO Vipula Gunatilleka talked numbers, explaining how the airline expected a 40 per cent growth rate in the next five years, with expansion into Sydney, Kathmandu and Saigon. He was joined by Dimuthu Tennakoon, Head of Worldwide Sales and Distribution, who hinted at flights from Ahmedabad and Calicut in the near future, as well as seasonal rebates and promotional offers. CCO Joshua Bestos revealed that SLA was in talks with other international carriers such as Lufthansa, British Airways and Ethiopian Airways, to expand their global network.
The Sri Lankan Finance Ministry had reported a 13-billion-rupee loss for SLA in the first four months of 2019. Coupled with a fall in tourism after the deadly Easter attacks, and a terminated deal with Emirates, the increased flight frequency suggests an attempt to revamp the business model. Gunatilleka confirmed that the airline was on the lookout for investors, and attributed one-fifth of losses last year to expensive leases and contracts.
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