SriLankan Airlines is preparing for its return to Australia, announcing plans for direct flights between Melbourne and Colombo.

Starting 29 October, the oneworld member will offer the only direct services between Australia and Sri Lanka with daily departures aboard Airbus A330-200 aircraft.

The move is in response to growing demand in the south-east, including from Melbourne’s sizeable Sri Lankan community and growing student population.

“Despite the absence of direct connections, we have witnessed a steady increase in passengers travelling between Colombo and Melbourne via various Asian connecting points such as Singapore and Kuala Lumpur,” said SriLankan Airlines’ chief commercial officer Siva Ramachandran.

“Our direct services will give us a definite advantage as SriLankan is the only carrier that is able to offer connectivity of this nature at this time,” he said. “We also offer seamless onward connections beyond Colombo to a range of destinations in the Indian Sub-Continent and Middle East.”

Sri Lanka’s national carrier offers connections to 10 Indian points and nine Middle Eastern gateways, as well as holiday destinations in the Seychelles and Maldives.

The Melbourne services will complement SriLankan’s existing double-daily services offered with code-share partners Qantas and Malaysian Airlines, travelling via Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

Australia’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Bryce Hutchesson said direct air connections between the two countries would stimulate tourism, business and trade.

“We are seeing a growing number of Australians looking to travel to Sri Lanka for tourism and business, and to reconnect with family,” Hutchesson said. “And we welcome the growing number of Sri Lankans travelling to Australia for education, business, to explore Australia’s culture and natural wonders, and of course to catch up with family and friends.”

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