Chinese transit passengers did not enter airport terminal, authorities say

Chinese transit passengers did not enter airport terminal, authorities say

Chinese transit passengers did not enter airport terminal, authorities say

Written by Staff Writer

15 Apr, 2020 | 11:10 pm

COLOMBO (News1st): The passengers who flew a SriLankan Airlines transit flight on Monday had not entered the terminal of the Katunayake airport, Sri Lankan authorities have said.

Flight UL-504 touched down at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) following which the passengers had boarded flight UL-866 heading towards Shanghai, China.

Sri Lanka’s one-time external affairs minister Mangala Samaraweera, on Twitter, queried as to why China had not chosen one of their own airlines to fly their citizens home.

“All passengers were transferred from aircraft to aircraft within a radius of 100 meters at the parking bay, with the highest focus and adherence to health regulations,” Airport and Aviation Services Ltd. responded to the tweet.

Sri Lanka suspended all flight arrivals since mid-March in a bid to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Embassy in Colombo, responding to the tweet said that there is only one direct flight operated by China Eastern Airlines, on Friday, connecting London and Shanghai.

“Tens of thousands of Overseas Chinese students in UK & US need more aircraft. We appreciate SL Airlines’ help on a commercial basis,” the tweet read.

The transit flight has drawn criticism especially in the political sphere, with concerns being raised over the safety of the flight crew and airport officials in the event of such flights

Earlier this week, former parliamentarian Wasantha Samarasinghe also raised concerns over the exposure of local staff at the BIA terminals to the passengers.

The debt-laden national carrier this month announced salary reductions for its staff ranging between 2.5 to 25 percent for three months, as a cost-saving measure.

Salary increments of SriLankan employees too have been frozen, the airline said, adding that other cost-cutting measures included suspending operations except for cargo services from April 8 to 21.

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