An Alliance Air flight from Chennai landed at the Jaffna International Airport on Thursday after 40 years. The flight which departed at 8.44 am from Chennai airport landed in Jaffna at 10.20 am. Among the 72 seats of the ATR’s flight, only 16 of them were occupied by the Air India officials and other VIPs.
“Bringing #IndiaSriLanka even closer. Welcome the opening of #Jaffna International Airport today. Congratulate @airindiain on Alliance Air’s inaugural Chennai-Jaffna flight. A historic moment,” External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar tweeted. The Jaffna International Airport was earlier known as Palaly airport which was used as a military air base and for domestic flights. President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe formally unveiled a plaque commemorating the inauguration of the airport. Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Taranjit Singh Sandhu was also present.
The occasion also marked the maiden ATR-72 aircraft of Alliance Air making its first overseas trip with a delegation from India led by Air India CMD Ashwani Lohani, Alliance Air CEO CS Subbiah and a group of Indian journalists on board. Alliance Air, the wholly owned subsidiary of Air India, would soon commence its maiden overseas flight to Jaffna.
Sri Lankan Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation Arjuna Ranatunga said the plan was to commence the airline service between Chennai and Jaffna from November 1. The fare for the Chennai-Jaffna route is priced at around Rs 4,000, Alliance Air officials said. The airline currently serves 54 destinations across India and first overseas operation was between Chennai-Jaffna.