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Peter Hill back in Sri Lanka to run privately-owned airline profitably

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By Sanath Nanayakkare

Peter Murray Hill, who was CEO at SriLankan Airlines when it was under Emirates management and ran the now loss-making airline profitably from March 1998 to December 2007, is now back in Sri Lanka to propel FITSAir – a truly Sri Lankan Airline owned by Sri Lanka’s Aberdeen Holdings Group.

Announcing FITSAir’s starting with Colombo- Dubai journey – three times a week from 5th of October- the Airline has already scheduled its flights to the Maldives and Trichy also, and has plans to expand its services in a sustainable way as the demand evolves, taking one step at a time.

Speaking at a press briefing to announce the Airline’s plans, what it offers and its goals, Hill said, “FITS is not a new airline. Sri Lanka’s Expo Aviation which was founded 25 years ago as a privately owned carrier is the beginning of this story. They operated international cargo charters to the Maldives, Pakistan, Thailand and a number of other places. They were pretty successful at that. It was a small operation which was profitable. During the northern conflict, it was difficult to get to places like Jaffna and FITSAir came along and they provided a unique link between the North of the country and Colombo. Expo Aviation gave way to a rebranded operation under the name of FITS Aviation Pvt. Ltd in March 2013 and that’s where FITS Air came to be as part of Aberdeen Holdings Group which operates unique businesses within the group.

“FITSAir continued to operate successful cargo operations during the Covid period which provided a vital link predominantly between Colombo and the region. They catered to their export markets and also brought in medical supplies from countries such as Hong Kong and Thailand. They are still doing that today.”

“In fact, we spent last 12 months developing a regional scheduled passenger airline. We are aiming to provide affordable travel between SAARC nations, the Gulf Council Countries (GCC) and South East Asia, all based here in Colombo. Our mission is to provide sustainable, affordable air travel on a no-frills basis to customers wanting to travel, within the region for work, for pleasure, leisure, business, education and the list goes on. Today everybody is looking for affordable air travel. The key driver here is affordable fares. We will make sure that we provide reliable schedules to destinations which have constant demand that enable us to sustain our services throughout the year. We won’t be going to one-off places on seasonal demand. That is not our focus. Our team today comprises a rare breed of seasoned professionals working alongside a new generation of fresh faces. They are fully qualified, ambitious newcomers. One key thing I want to stress here is; all on the team are Sri Lankans with two exceptions including myself and another one who has been in Sri Lanka even longer than me. And he will be running the engineering department. We are both pretty well-known in the industry. FITS Air is a truly Sri Lankan company and a true Lankan product because the key market for us is the local market; Sri Lankans travelling to regions and people coming to visit Sri Lanka within the region. We want to show that in these very challenging and difficult times, the private enterprises in Sri Lanka are still capable of achieving remarkable results by dint of honest, hard work, proper resources and exceptional team work. Anybody who has known me over the years would know that I am very good at developing passionate and hardworking teams. That will drive this airline too. I am very confident about that. When you travel with us you will see the efficiency of our team work. There is nobody special on our team. I am also an ordinary member of the team.”

“We are starting with Dubai three times a week which begins on 5th of October. We are travelling to the Maldives three times a week- starting on 10th of October. Later in October we will be starting our first flight to Southern India. We have decided on Trichy three times a week from 28th of October.

“Our main line flights will be operated by Airbus A 320, which will offer economy class seating. And for a few people who want to have a little bit better comfort, we offer a small cabin which is called Economy Plus. Anyway Economy is the word here. We are not going for business class. We will be offering a no-frills product at very competitive prices. We are restricting ourselves to basically SAARC, GCC and South East Asia. We are not looking to fly to exotic destinations outside of the region. The airline is 100% privately-owned, and no funding from the government whatsoever.”



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CIABOC: Most complaints against police in 2022

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The Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption (CIABOC) received 2,512 complaints last year.

The Commission says 921 complaints were forwarded for investigation; 440 complaints were referred to other relevant institutions as they did not fall under the provisions of the Bribery Commission Act. It says charges have been filed as regards 96 complaints and 911 complaints

have been forwarded for further investigations and legal advice.The Commission points out that most complaints received last year were against the police.

By the end of last year, 254 cases related to bribery or corruptions were pending in courts.

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New speed limit in area near Parliament

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Vehicles that move through the area adjacent to Parliament will not be allowed to exceed 40 kmph, and this speed limit will apply to everyone including the MPs.The new speed limit had been imposed as the number of schoolchildren, visiting the parliamentary complex, was increasing, Serjeant-at-Arms, Narendra Fernando, told The Island.

“The original speed limit was 20 kmph. It was subsequently increased and there were no limits as such at the time we decided to impose the new limit of 40 kmph.

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More land released in North

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The Security Force HQ-Jaffna (SFHQ-J), acting on a presidential directive, released 80.14 acres of land, which had been under the Army, to the Jaffna District Secretariat, for onward distribution among people on Friday (03) to mark the 75th National Independence Day.

Accordingly, 12.14 acres in the Palaly North Grama Niladari (GN) Division, 0.72 perches in the Thelippalai GN Division in the Palaly High Security Zone (HSZ), 50.59 acres in the Kankasanthurai Central GN Division and 16.55 acres in the Mailaddy North GN Division were released on Friday (03) after handing over formal documents to that effect during a symbolic ceremony, held at Anthonypuram in Palaly.

The District Secretary upon receipt of those documents expressed gratitude to the Security Forces in his vote of thanks and said the gesture would inevitably further boost existing relations between the civilians and the members of the Security Forces in the peninsula.Respective Divisional Secretaries, General Officer

Commanding of 51, 52, 55 Infantry Divisions, Deputy Inspector General for Jaffna, Commander, 515 Infantry Brigade, Commanding Officer, Air Force Station, Palaly, State Officials, Senior Officers, Officers, Other Ranks and beneficiaries were present at the occasion.

The Army without compromising security concerns in the peninsula has been in the practice of releasing those lands to legal owners in the past and the above release was also made from lands that have been largely used by cluster camps of the Army, situated inside the Palaly High Security Zone.

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