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Sri Lanka To Resume Jaffna-Chennai Direct Flight By Next Week: Minister

In October 2019, the airport was renamed Jaffna International Airport, however, the current runway can only handle 75-seat flights

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Sri Lanka will resume flights from the northern Jaffna peninsula to Chennai as early as next week, according to a senior minister, boosting the cash-strapped country's tourism sector and providing a boost to its battered economy.

Sri Lanka's primary source of foreign exchange earnings is tourism. However, the onset of the pandemic in 2020 severely harmed the tourism sector, contributing significantly to Sri Lanka's economic woes.

According to the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, the island nation's earnings from international tourist arrivals in November totalled USD 107.5 billion, with the total for the first eleven months of the year totalling USD 1129.4 million.

“Flights to India from Palaly will resume soon, most likely by 12 December,” Nimal Siripala de Silva, Sri Lanka's Aviation Minister, told Parliament on Monday.

Flights between Jaffna and Chennai will resume, according to the minister. “There are still some runway improvements that are required,” he added.

The current runway can only handle 75-seat flights. In October 2019, the airport was renamed Jaffna International Airport. Flight from Chennai will be the first international flight to land there.

Both Sri Lanka and India contributed to the airport’s redevelopment in 2019. Previously, India's Alliance, a wholly owned subsidiary of Air India, flew three times per week from Chennai to Palaly.

However, flight operations were halted after the Sri Lankan government changed in November 2019.

Sri Lanka is currently experiencing its worst economic crisis since gaining independence from the United Kingdom in 1948. Since early April, there have been street protests in Sri Lanka against the government over its handling of the economic crisis.

The IMF announced a USD 2.9 billion bailout package in September to assist the country in overcoming its worst economic crisis.

A crippling lack of foreign reserves has resulted in long lines for fuel, cooking gas and other necessities, while power outages and soaring food prices have added to the people's misery.

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