The Sri Lankan aviation industry is about to welcome a new budget airline within the coming weeks, as FitsAir is gearing up to operate its first international commercial flights in the first week of October. FitsAir is backed by Aberdeen Holdings and will also become the country’s first-ever privately-owned airline, signifying a double milestone for the Sri Lankan aviation industry.
The history of FitsAir
While FitsAir might be a new airline startup, it is also the successor of what was formerly known as ExpoAviation or ExpoAir. Under the previous name, ExpoAir’s origins spanned approximately 25 years ago in 1997 as a cargo carrier, when the first operations were conducted with a leased cargo aircraft flying from Sri Lanka to the Maldives.
By 2000, ExpoAir had three aircraft in its fleet and was expanding its cargo operations to neighboring India and across the Indian Ocean to Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates. It was only until June 2002 that ExpoAir grew into daily scheduled domestic passenger flights but was still operating more cargo flights. However, the airline ceased operations in March 2013.
The rebranding of FitsAir
So why the comeback and rebranding from ExpoAir to FitsAir? According to FitsAir officials, the new airline startup is determined it make air travel within Sri Lanka more affordable, given the country’s current economic situation. To do this, FitsAir focuses on the immediate product of giving a comfortable seat to get its passengers to their destination with minimum or no fuss where possible.
Vice President of Passenger Services at FitsAir, Peter Hill, who is also an aviation veteran and expert, commented:
“At present, Sri Lanka is going through a major economic crisis, but we are looking at it in a positive way, and that is why we launched this budget airline here. However, though outside factors for the industry are beyond our control, we are quite optimistic about operating in Sri Lanka.”
Similar to the route network of ExpoAir, the rebranded airline intends to focus on destinations within the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) region, which includes seven other states like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, and Pakistan.
FitsAir currently houses one ATR-72 and three Airbus A320s in its fleet, one of which was previously registered as SU-BQB under Nile Air (pictured above). Photo: Ken Fielding via Wikimedia Commons
The low-cost carrier also wants to focus heavily on the Gulf Council Countries, such as Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. And it also plans to focus intently on countries within the South and South-East Asia region. Hill continued to explain:
“FitsAir will cater to the needs of the modern Sri Lankan traveler who wants competitive fares and efficient in-flight services without any frills. The premise is that we do not want to waste a passenger’s time, money, or energy in the process of traveling. FitsAir, due to its pricing competitiveness, will make air travel a viable option for many Sri Lankans.”
FitsAir is ready for departure
And with four aircraft already in its fleet, FitsAir is prepared to welcome passengers and take off for international skies. Commencing on October 5th, the budget carrier will operate its first flight from Colombo to Dubai, followed by flights to Male beginning on October 10th. Flight services to Trichy will begin shortly after on October 28th. FitsAir will operate three weekly flights to each of these destinations.
All flight services will be operated on its fleet of Airbus A320-200 aircraft, with a seating capacity of 164 to allow the airline to offer approximately 984 seats on each route weekly. The aircraft have already been retrofitted with 156 seats in Economy Class and eight seats in Economy Plus, which features wider seats and more leg room, and the fares include in-flight meals. Economy Class tickets do come with light refreshments.
Overall, FitsAir is confident that even with the highly competitive market within the global aviation industry and the economic crisis affecting fuel stocks in Sri Lanka, it will still stay ahead of the game and do relatively well. Even for the issue of fuel, FitsAir has said it has sorted out its stock till December 2022, and obtaining more would not be an issue given it has financial means. With October 5th inching closer, may FitsAir have smooth flights ahead.
Source: Peoples’ Gazette