Sri Lanka's state-run SriLankan Airlines is on track to fly directly to China next year as traffic to Colombo picks up, local media said here Monday.
SriLankan is now flying to China via Bangkok, with tourists to Maldives being a key contributor to filling seats. But direct traffic to Sri Lanka has been picking up, local website Lanka Business Online said.
"We expect to be able to fly direct to China from the next summer schedule," SriLankan's head of commercial G.T. Jayaseelan was quoted as saying in the report.
Chinese tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka have risen 72.3 percent to 16,582 in the six months to June from a year earlier, overtaking Japan as the biggest East Asian generating market over the past few months.
But up to now smaller niche China based outbound travel agents were serving Sri Lanka, Jayaseelan said.
China and East Asia is a key growth market for SriLankan airlines as it focuses more on regional traffic. The airline now operates to Beijing, Shanghai, Gaungzhou and Hong Kong.
China has become a top outbound tourist generating market for Asian nations. Sri Lanka has also stepped up promotions in China amid stronger state level interactions with the country.