On the resort island popular with tourists, real hunger riots can begin: mass protests continue to grow in Sri Lanka, the cause of which is a sharp rise in prices, a shortage of food and fuel. This is multiplied by the lack of foreign exchange due to the fall in tourist traffic due to the pandemic. At the same time, an additional scandal occurred with Russian tourists – related to the arrest of the Aeroflot plane a week ago, and, accordingly, the cancellation of direct flights.
In May alone, food prices on the island rose by more than half. Gasoline, diesel and gas are getting more expensive even faster – almost three times. As a result, gas stations are closed, and many areas of the resort remain without electricity. Earlier, UN High Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs spokesman Jens Lerke said that the economic crisis faced by Sri Lanka risks developing into a full-blown humanitarian emergency.
Recall that at the same time, Aeroflot, which had previously opened a direct flight to the island, announced that it was suspending commercial flights to Colombo (Sri Lanka) “due to the unreliability of the situation in terms of ensuring unhindered flights of the airline’s aircraft to Sri Lanka.” The reason was the arrest of the Airbus A-330, which was confiscated in the capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo, right during its first flight to this country. The main reason was a statement from an Irish lessor.
At the same time, the Sri Lankan court very quickly suspended the order prohibiting the Aeroflot aircraft from leaving the country. At the same time, the country’s tourism industry condemned the actions of the authorities, according to which Sri Lanka lost supplies of Russian tourists. The country’s Attorney General intervened. In his petition, he explained that the tourism industry of Sri Lanka would suffer from the detention of the Russian liner.
“Air sanctions” blocked another direction for Russian tourists – at least direct flights. The Russian national carrier Aeroflot, after its Airbus A-330 airliner was confiscated in the capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo, right during its first flight to this country, canceled all flights in this direction. According to the carrier, it will evacuate tourists already in this country and return tickets to passengers. Tour operators also offer rebooking to other destinations.
Recall the essence of the matter: Aeroflot resumed regular flights to Sri Lanka from April 8. The flights were operated three times a week, mainly on Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. Then the Airbus A330 from Aeroflot began to fly to the resort. This liner suffered: from Saturday, according to a court order, the aircraft, which was supposed to fly on the Colombo-Moscow route, was forbidden to leave Sri Lanka until at least June 16th. “Plaintiff states that he entered into a settlement agreement with the respondent airline Aeroflot, and therefore the plaintiff filed a complaint demanding that the aircraft belonging to the defendant airline be prohibited from leaving Sri Lanka,” the report said. Read the details at the link.
As the editor-in-chief of the Avia.ru portal Roman Gusarov explained to Business FM, the re-registration of the delayed airliner could violate the company’s settlement agreement with the Irish lessor. Here is his comment: “It seems that in this case we are not dealing directly with sanctions and the consequences of sanctions, but with a commercial dispute and the lessor, that is, the owner of the aircraft. Moreover, the situation is ambiguous, and the fate of this aircraft will be decided in the court of Sri Lanka. While there is definitely no decision to withdraw the aircraft, it has been detained at the request of the owner, the lessor. This case will be considered, since this is a commercial dispute, here, I think, the chances are 50/50.” Nevertheless, judging by the statement of the carrier, the issue is directly related to air sanctions – while the authorities of Sri Lanka gave a guarantee of the safety of the liners from arrests.
As a result, tour operators who sell package tours to Sri Lanka on Aeroflot flights will have to find a way to get their money back or transfer the booking to another destination. In particular, Biblio-Globus stated the following: “From June 3, 2022, Aeroflot suspends, until further notice, the program for operating regular SU288 flights on the Moscow-Colombo-Moscow route. For failed flights, the following destinations are available for rebooking: Egypt, Turkey, Maldives, Sochi. Rebooking is carried out at the current cost.
According to the latest information from tourprom.ru, the court of Sri Lanka suspended the order prohibiting the Aeroflot aircraft from leaving the country. At the same time, the country’s tourism industry condemned the actions of the authorities, according to which Sri Lanka lost supplies of Russian tourists.
According to the information provided by ATOR, the prosecutor general of the country intervened in the case. In his petition, he explained that the tourism industry of Sri Lanka would suffer from the detention of the Russian liner. Aeroflot was the only regular carrier operating flights between Colombo and Moscow.
As a result, on June 4, the Russian airline has suspended all flights to Sri Lanka. The High Court considered this argument sufficient to overturn the restraining order.
Experts noted that it is now decisively unprofitable for Sri Lanka to quarrel with Russia – especially given the fact that the country is in a crisis caused, among other things, by the situation on the fuel market. At the same time, the country’s refineries are now working on Russian oil and negotiations are underway on a Russian loan to Sri Lanka for its purchase.
Tourism as a “new oil” and a source of funds has not been canceled either. As a result, tourism in Sri Lanka condemned the actions of the authorities. The incident has already been called “a diplomatic incident, due to which the country lost direct flights from Russia.”