Sri Lankan regional airline Cinnamon Air expects a significant boost from traffic resulting from the recent move by its codeshare partner, SriLankan Airlines, to join the Oneworld alliance. Owned by the Saffron Aviation joint venture among John Keels Holdings, MMBL Leisure Holdings and Phoenix Ventures, Cinnamon operates scheduled domestic services in the South Asian country, as well as charter flights.
According to Saffron Aviation director Romesh David, Cinnamon’s traffic could grow “exponentially” as a result of the connection between SriLankan Airlines’ network and that of the Oneworld carriers, which include American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Qantas and Qatar Airways.
Today, Cinnamon’s fleet consists of just two Cessna 208 Grand Caravans–one of them configured for amphibious operations. Both operate out of Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport to various domestic destinations across the island nation. With the exception of 15 flights a week to Mattala, the country’s second international airport, in the southeast, SriLankan has made a conscious decision not to fly to domestic destinations.
“We are fighting a battle of lack of awareness,” David told AIN. He believes the connection with the Oneworld alliance will turn this around dramatically.
Expansion will accompany infrastructure growth in Sri Lanka as Cinnamon Air pins hopes on plans by the government to upgrade 14 domestic airports, according to David.
With the local runway now ready to accept more traffic, the operator plans daily flights to the historic city of Sigirya this summer. It also plans 10 flights a week to Kandy, a Buddhist destination. With road infrastructure severely lacking across the country, “distances don’t relate to time,” said David. “Kandy is a 20-minute flight from Colombo, but four-and-a-half hours by road.”
Cinnamon Air’s private charters, primarily operating scenic flights and serving tourist destinations, account for approximately 40 percent of its business. The carrier remains constrained by issues such as the limited availability of expatriate pilots and expensive fuel. Other high costs are incurred by wear and tear on the Caravans’ landing gear for both amphibious and ground operations. Cinnamon must carry about $500,000 worth of spares to avoid having to wait for up to six days to receive replacement parts.