MIAMI – A new airline will launch in Sri Lanka next year. Spark Air plans to begin flights in February 2021 with a pair of Airbus A330. Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (RIA) in Mattala will serve as its hub.
Spark will initially fly cargo because of the “current global situation.” It intends to serve Africa, Europe, Asia, and the United States. The airline will expand to passenger operations when the industry improves.
In addition to flights, Spark will manage its own ground facilities. These include hangars and a repair station. Both will be built at RIA and create over 2,000 local jobs. Hiring will begin in December 2020.
A Potential Competitor
Spark is not the only rising star in Sri Lanka. Fly Lankan Asia is also planning to begin operations soon. Like Spark, it too will fly cargo and passengers. Its hub will be Colombo International Airport Ratmalana (CMB).
Fly Lankan, however, is one step ahead of Spark. It has already received certification from the Government of Sri Lanka. Spark is awaiting its Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) and Operator’s License (OL). Without them, it cannot legally conduct flights.
In an interview with Smart Aviation APAC, Fly Lankan said it wants to use the British Aerospace 146 for passengers and the Boeing 737-200 for cargo. On the other hand, Spark wants to use the Airbus A330 for both. It is nearing the conclusion of dry-lease agreements for the aircraft from unnamed lessors.
Developing Aviation in Sri Lanka
Spark hopes to help further the development of aviation in Sri Lanka. Captain Uditha Danwatte, the airline’s Head of Safety Management System, states that the government is willing to make changes.
“The new Government is looking to provide a lot of new facilities to develop aviation, including minimizing landing charges, air freight charges, and ground handling,” he says. “We also have a very positive Director-General of Aviation who is keen to develop aviation in the country.”
Capt. Danwatte also mentions that Spark must be protected for it to succeed. He believes one national carrier is not enough for Sri Lanka’s aviation industry to thrive.
“We only have Sri Lankan Airlines, that’s not enough to cater to everyone. In addition, Sri Lankan has 26 aircraft and 7,000 staff whereas AirAsia has 110 aircraft and 2,500 staff. How can Sri Lankan make profits? The management has clearly not been successful.”
Featured image: Spark Air. Photo: ft.lk