|Wednesday, 15 January 2003|
Chennai - Colombo ferry service in the offing
By Shirajiv Sirimane
An Indian shipping company has decided to operate a ferry service between India and Sri Lanka. This is in addition to the two Indian and two Sri Lankan shipping companies which will be operating ferry services between Colombo and Tuticorin.
According to the Secretary, Ministry of Tourism Dr. P. Ramanujan the Indian companies have decided to operate their service from Chennai and Colombo.
Speaking at the launch of the inaugural 'Meet Sri Lanka' brochure on MICE (Meeting, Incentives Conference and Exhibitions) tourism by SriLankan Airlines he said that this service will come into operation after the Colombo Tuticorin ferry service gets under way next month.
"Everything in this regard has now been finalised and the only thing left to do is to put the ink on the agreement between the two shipping Ministers of both countries."
The Counsellor (Economic and Commercial) of the Indian High Commission V. Ashok said that the proposed ferry service is a welcome move.
"This service will be a highly popular mode of transport in the future."
He said that Embassy will make arrangements to speed up the visa procedure in view of this service and in time to come they will even go to the extent of hiring additional staff to the Embassy for this service.
The 'Daily News' understands that a Maldivian and English based company too have shown interest in operating this service. The ferry service between India and Sri Lanka was terminated 20 years ago. The two ports during the time were Talaimannar and Rameshwaram.
Asked what the Ministry is hoping to do with regard to increasing the 'air seat factor' between India and Sri Lanka he said that this problem will be discussed at top level when the Minister of Trade and Commerce Ravi Karunanayake meets the Indian Ministers soon. "This problem is on the agenda and we are confident to get a favourable response from our Indian counterparts."
He said that the dispute between the SriLankan Airlines and Sri Lanka Aviation Service (AASL) will be settled soon.
"There was speculation that the Aviation services had set a deadline. But this is not true. It is the newspapers that have set the deadline," he said. AASL had told SriLankan Airlines that it would withdraw their services to the airline from January 1, 2003 if the latter failed to pay over Rs. 370 million landing charges overdue for a prolonged period of time. The airline has been delaying the payment of full amount which was due, saying that it qualified for certain concessions.
According to the Civil Aviation Department sources the AASL has no legal authority to give any concession to SriLankan Airline as it is a violation of the International Civil Aviation Organisation regulations. The Chief Financial and Administrative Officer of SriLankan Airlines, Neeraj Kumar told the 'Daily News' earlier that the matter would be discussed at the Board meeting and the amount will be paid immediately to settle the matter.
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