Apr 30, Hambantota: Sri Lanka's national carrier, SriLankan Airlines joined the oneworld global aviation alliance with a special ceremony held at the new Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport this morning.
By becoming a full member, SriLankan can offer the complete range of services and benefits of the oneworld alliance with effect from Thursday 1 May 2014.
SriLankan is the first carrier from the Indian subcontinent to become part of any global airline groups.
Senior Minister Sarath Amunugama, Hambantota district parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa and SriLankan Airlines Chairman Nishantha Wickremasinghe were among the number of distinguished guests participated in the ceremony.
Hosted by SriLankan Chairman Nishantha Wickremasinghe and Chief Executive Officer Kapila Chandrasena, the event was attended by senior executives from across oneworld.
Senior Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama, unveiled the first SriLankan aircraft to be decorated in a special oneworld livery - an Airbus A330, which will act as a giant flying billboard to publicize the airline's induction to the alliance.
Addressing the gathering the Chairman of the carrier said as part of oneworld, SriLankan Airlines is connected to almost 1,000 airports in more than 150 countries.
Oneworld logos will be applied to each of the 21 aircraft in the airline's fleet from tonight, and at the airline's facilities at airports and downtown city locations worldwide, signaling that SriLankan is now part of the group.
SriLankan's first flight as part of oneworld will be UL318 departing from Colombo to the Kuala Lumpur hub of oneworld partner Malaysia Airlines at 7:45 a.m. tomorrow (1May).
The airline's addition to oneworld will bring two new destinations on to the alliance network - Hambantota itself plus India's Tiruchirappalli - along with its Colombo base as a new oneworld hub.
With an extensive schedule serving southern India and as the leading international airline serving the Maldives, SriLankan also significantly strengthens oneworld's presence throughout South Asia, one of the world's fastest growing regions for air travel demand.
SriLankan Airlines has successfully conducted various tests and trials to join this aviation alliance. Accordingly, it had qualified all preliminary trials held by Cathay Pacific Airways together with the main group.
By joining this alliance, from 01 May 2014 the 400,000 current members with SriLankan frequent flyer programme 'FlySmiles' would be able to enjoy the aviation services of any member airlines within the oneworld alliance.
On the eve of its entry into oneworld, SriLankan today concluded code-share agreements with two more oneworld members - Finnair and Russia's S7 Airlines.