SriLankan Airlines announced a 26 per cent year-on-year increase in the number of passengers it carried from the Middle East in the full year 2012/2013. The airline carried 463,999 passengers from nine destinations in the region, up from 342,290 passengers in 2011/2012.
Passenger traffic from the Middle East contributed the second highest revenue to the carrier’s network, after the Far East.
Nishantha Wickramasinghe, chairman, SriLankan Airlines said: “The recent increase in traffic can be attributed to both the domestic and leisure segments.
“The Middle East is home to many thousands of Sri Lankans who are working across the region and with flying time at only over four-hours from any major city in the GCC, Sri Lanka is an ideal short haul destination for all types of travellers from the region seeking long weekend rejuvenation, gourmet, cultural and outdoor luxury experiences.”
Within the region, the airline operates 48 flights a week into five GCC countries across eight destinations. It also has a codeshare agreement with Royal Jordanian.
The Middle East is one of the main markets for Sri Lankan migrant workers, with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the UAE accounting for 84.3 per cent of total migrant workers in 2012, according to official figures.
Overall, total number of departures from Sri Lanka for foreign employment reached 279,482 last year, with departures to the Middle East accounting for 94.4 per cent of the total migrants.