Sri Lanka's budget airline takes flight after delay


Colombo (XFN-ASIA) - Sri Lanka's new state-run budget airline

secured a provisional license to fly after technical problems delayed its maiden

test flight by over eight hours, officials said.

A Mihin Air flight flew to India's southern city of Thiruvananthapuram from the island's sole international airport late Sunday and returned around midnight, airport officials said.

The flight to the shortest international destination from Sri Lanka's Bandaranaike international airport was held up due to problems with the plane's nose wheel, officials said.

The flight from Colombo was a requirement for Mihin Air to get an "air operating certificate" from the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka. No paying passengers were on board the test voyage.

"The test flight was successful and we are in the process of issuing the operating certificate today (Monday)," the Director General of Civil Aviation, H.M.C. Nimalsiri, told AFP.

The certificate gives Mihin Air clearance to operate and handle all other aspects of a commercial flight using a leased Fokker-27 aircraft.

Mihin Air does not own, or lease, any other aircraft now and will announce a schedule to the Indian subcontinent and Middle East destinations once it gets all licenses, the government has said.

The airline's start-up costs are expected be 1.5 bln rupees. The government has set aside 500 mln rupees as working capital.
Sri Lanka's national carrier SriLankan airlines is partly owned and fully managed by Dubai's Emirates airlines.

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