Sri Lankan expatriates in a fix as budget airline goes bust

DUBAI —Several Lankan expatriates planning to go home for the summer vacation have been forced to re-think their travel plans following the indefinite suspension of their country's budget airline.

By Preeti Kanan

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Published: Mon 4 Aug 2008, 1:17 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 4:59 PM

The grounding of Mihin Lanka in May this year has given a big blow to the island nation's migrant population in the UAE since the airline tickets were nearly half the cost of other carriers.

Reports suggest that the airline's operations have been suspended due to lack of funds and aircraft.

Lankan living in the UAE opined that low-income earners, especially housemaids, garment workers and labourers, were the worst hit.

"It is very sad that the airline has stopped operating. It was very affordable for many people like me. The tickets were priced less than Dh1,000 during off-peak season and about Dh1,200 during peak time. This helped me visit my family every year. Now, I have to put my summer travel plans on hold as I cannot afford to travel in other airlines," said a worker.

Several agents who did bookings for travellers are now trying to get refunds and have written to the airline's office in Colombo.

Badrudin Mohammed Ajward, an air-conditioner mechanic, said that besides cheap tickets, the airline also gave far more baggage allowance compared to other carriers.

"I hope that Mihin Lanka resumes its flights soon or we get a cheaper alternative to fly home every year," said Udeni N, a housemaid in Dubai.

Rohan Kuruppu from Mihin Lanka GSA, Ominga International in Dubai conceded that the future of the airline remained uncertain.

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