Welcome to Trip Report 2 Flying on Helitours a Sri Lanka Air Force operated scheduled domestic carrier on this thrice weekly connection from Coombo-Ratmalana Airport (RML) to Trincomalee China Bay Airport (TRR) located in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka with a flight time of approx 45 Minutes
RML-TRR (24th December 2014) Helitours/Xian MA60
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Trip Report 2
Rounding off 2014 with my first domestic flight within Sri Lanka
With many locals venturing out of Colombo for the end of year festivities, we decided to visit Trincomalee. Trinco (TRR) is situated to the East of Sri Lanka, which meant a road trip would take us approximately 5 1/2 hours (one way) covering 265+ KM's
Knowing that a total of 11 hours on the road would be a complete waste of time, my call was to fly one of our local carriers to TRR. Our options were Helitours or flying on FitsAir (formally known as Expo Air) a private domestic/Cargo and Charter Airline, a subsidiary of Expo Lanka Holdings. Flying on Expo Air (8D) would mean that we'd have to fly on their Cessna 152 to Jaffna (JAF) in the north and look for conveyance from that point to TRR, this was a little off the radar so I decided to go for the early morning flight on Helitours directly to TRR
Tickets for the journey were reserved online and a visit to the Air Force HQ to finalize documentation and payment for the outbound Journey. As I recall, a return ticket was priced at around USD 70.00 (LKR 10,000/-)
Ratmalana Airport (RML) situated just half an hour away was the First International Airport in Sri Lanka,being replaced by Bandaranaike-International Airport (CMB) in 1967. RML served as a Base for Air Ceylon (now Sri Lankan Airlines) as well as BOAC,Indian Airlines,KLM ,British Eagle and more. However with International operations ceasing, RML is now operated by the Sri Lankan Air force as a Cargo Hub and a base for Domestic Carriers, Flying Schools as well as having the Sri Lanka Air force museum on its perimeters
Arrived at the Airport an hour before departure, having obtained our boarding Passes and dropping off our bags in the only counter that was operational. RML was way behind its time with only a fraction of the airport having any form of automation.
We then headed to the waiting area for our Xian MA60 to take us to TRR
A little spotting before departure
Airline: Helitours (HLT) Aircraft: Xian MA60 Registration: 4R-HTN Flight: HLT001 Seat Number: 3A From : Colombo-Ratmalana International Airport (VCCC/RML) To: China Bay Airport (VCCT/RML) Departure Gate: 1 Departure Time: 07:00 hrs (+05:30GMT) Date: 24th December 2014
ExpoAir Fokker F-27
A delayed departure due to an undisclosed reason frustrated most of us passengers mainly due to the lack of Communication from the ground staff. The delay was merely due to the airline waiting for a VVIP passenger and his family who arrived at the airport around half an hour past the scheduled departure time. Most passengers did not voice their opinion in this case, however i did speak to officials with this regard with no response what-soever.
Boarding was then announced with a delay of almost 1 1/2 Hours
We walked from the gate to the aircraft, and were welcomed by the cabin crew who were lined up by the MA60's stairs. The MA60 was a replica of the Bombardier Dash-8 Q400 !
Cabin/Seat A fresh cabin with a 2-2 Layout was very welcoming with our assigned aircraft 4R-HTN being well maintained and comfortable with lots of leg room.
Upgraded to a Premium Economy Seat alongside the VVIP's upon informing the crew who I was and that this was a TR. There wasn't any form of IFE or In fight Magazines which wasn't needed to be honest
Takeoff was smooth and we were over paradise in a matter of minutes
The Meal or rather a assortment of snacks were served soon after departure which was something I didn't expect for such a short flight
The Crew where reserved and only the VVIP's were attended to with the rest of the passengers being ignored which was pretty disappointing
Descent into TRR
Zero services and facilities were provided on reaching Trincomalee that added to the disappointment Overall a below average experience and doubt I would ever fly with them again
Saying Goodbye to HTN
Colombo - RML
Trincomalee - TRR
A good flight for a domestic sector, however unprofessional and corruption played a major role in brining down my overall rating of this flight, the airports and the airline.
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