Sri Lankan Airlines joins oneworld alliance

For the past two weeks or so, I had the incredible pleasure of exploring Sri Lanka, a gem of an island south of India, thanks to Sri Lankan Airlines and Jetwing Travels. My journey began with the joining ceremony of the airline into the oneworld alliance, after which it continued with an eight-day tour around Sri Lanka’s various regions. During this entire time, I was fascinated of how a country so small, recently torn by decades of war, can recoup so quickly and offer so much to its visitors.

Monica Suma Sri Lankan flag

Photo courtesy of Andreas Spaeth 

Thus, I wasn’t surprised to learn that ever since 1947, when the flag carrier first started operating as Air Ceylon, Sri Lankan Airlines has not only doubled in size since peace was reinstated on the island, but is now the only carrier from the Indian subcontinent to join any global airline alliance.

Sri Lankan Airlines joins oneworld

To mark the historical union, key government officials unveiled the first Sri Lankan aircraft with the oneworld logo in a spectacular ceremony held on May 1st at Asia’s newest airport, Hambantota’s Mattala Rajapaksa International. Upon arrival, we were greeted by flanks of Sri Lankan warriors, holding the most impressive shields.

Sri Lankan Airlines joins oneworld_2Sri Lankan girls

Attended by hundreds of journalists, Sri Lankan officials and esteemed Oneworld representatives, the unveiling took place amongst a sea of Sri Lankan dancers, one more mesmerizing than the other, that captured the crowd with their traditional costumes and Kandyan dance moves. The Sri Lankan girls, in particular, were breathtaking in their intricate attire and jewelry.

Women's Kandyan dance Sri Lanka Sri Lankan traditional costumes Kandyan dance Sri Lanka Kandyan dancers Sri Lanka Sri Lankan c

I was honored to be one of the journalists invited, and to witness perhaps Sri Lanka’s most captivating trait: its long withstanding culture, filled with oppulent colors, intricate rituals and unwavering beliefs.

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About Sri Lankan Airlines: With 21 aircrafts currently in operation, the airline is expecting 10 more on the way, making it the largest airline to serve the Maldives. Last year alone, Sri Lankan Airlines carried almost five million passengers between its Colombo base and 32 destinations in 20 different countries around the world, across Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

Sri Lankan Airlines joins oneworld ceremony

Perhaps my favorite part of the ceremony was when the curtains from the conference room were lifted, only to reveal a myriad of dancers surrounding the new Sri Lankan Airlines aircraft with the oneworld logo, dancing to the beats of traditional music, in an unbeliavable manifestation of culture. It was like nothing that I had ever seen. My eyes were sore at the sheer beauty of what was unraveling.

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With this expansion, Sri Lankan Airlines joins 14 of the world’s best airlines, including recent members TAM Airlines and US Airways. As part of the oneworld family, the carrier now offers the full range of services and benefits of the highest rated global airline alliance.

Stay tuned as I share my thoughts and experiences of touring Sri Lanka, in my upcoming posts.

Disclaimer: I was flown in by Sri Lankan Airlines to attend the oneworld joining ceremony, after which I went on a custom tour around the island, courtesy of Jetwing Travels and Jetwing Hotels. However, all opinions are mine.

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  • Mary Anne Been

    Wow! those are some serious costumes. I love the colors and happy faces.

    • monicasuma

      I know … I’m really into that, and so I couldn’t stop taking pictures. They call Sri Lanka the land of a thousand smiles, so you’re right on!

  • @mrsoaroundworld

    Seems like a great ceremony! Cant wait to see the inside of the plane.. and the rest of the country!

    • monicasuma

      I’ll have some posts on business class on both American Airlines, the new aircraft, and Sri Lankan. Both great experiences. And yup, lots more of the country coming up!

  • dewtraveller

    Wow! Looks amazing, their dresses are beautiful. I had to miss out coming to Sri Lanka this year, but I will definitely make it there soon! Can’t wait to read more!

    • monicasuma

      You should, it’s really worth it.

  • Lazy Travelers

    looove these photos!! excited to see the rest of your grand sri lankan adventure 🙂

    • monicasuma

      Thank you!

  • Francesca

    How exciting for Sri Lankan Airlines and what an amazing experience for you!

    • monicasuma

      It was, indeed. I have so much more to share.

  • lola

    i just love LOVE love all the colors! must get to this part of the world soon. can’t wait for your other posts too.

    • monicasuma

      You should, you’d love the dress-up side of things! 🙂