Row erupts between Russia and Sri Lanka over seizure of Aeroflot plane; tourism industry to face the brunt

On Saturday morning, Aeroflot announced suspending commercial flights to Sri Lanka for an indefinite period, citing the “unreliability of the situation in terms of ensuring unhindered flights of the airline’s aircraft to Sri Lanka”. The row, if not resolved quickly, could hurt Sri Lanka’s already troubled economy as Russia is its third top source market for its tourism industry.

Jun 04, 2022
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A diplomatic row broke out on Saturday between Russia and Sri Lanka after a commercial court in Sri Lanka ordered the seizing of an aircraft belonging to Russia’s Aeroflot airline, prompting the airline to suspend its commercial operations to the country that was one of Russians' top tourist destinations.


An Airbus 330 Jet of Aeroflot, which was scheduled to depart from Colombo on Friday, was denied permission to take off following an order from the Commercial High Court in Colombo. The decision came based upon a complaint filed by Celestial Aviation Trading Limited, an Irish aircraft leasing company.

Russia's Foreign Ministry confirmed lodging a protest with the Sri Lankan envoy to Moscow. “We urged the Sri Lankan side to settle this problem as soon as possible to avoid its negative impact on traditionally friendly bilateral relations,” Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

On Saturday morning, Aeroflot announced suspending commercial flights to Sri Lanka for an indefinite period, citing the “unreliability of the situation in terms of ensuring unhindered flights of the airline’s aircraft to Sri Lanka”. The row, if not resolved quickly, could hurt Sri Lanka’s already troubled economy as Russia is its third top source market for its tourism industry.

Sri Lanka’s Airport & Aviation Private Limited claimed in a statement that the issue was completely commercial in nature, and should be dealt with by two parties with no involvement of the state.

On the other hand, Dinesh Gunawardena, Sri Lanka’s foreign minister, said that the issue should be resolved quickly by the authorities before it could cause any major damage to bilateral relations and the economy.

Flight operations' suspension by Russia’s Aeroflot will hurt Sri Lanka’s tourism industry. Amid the ongoing crisis in Sri Lanka, the number of tourist arrivals has already fallen by 50 percent in April. Russia, after India and the UK, was the third top source market for the country. 

(SAM)

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