Air Ceylon

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Air Ceylon
Air Ceylon logo.png
IATA
AE
ICAO
AE
Callsign
Founded 1947 (1947)
Colombo, Ceylon
Ceased operations 1978 (1978)
Hubs Ratmalana Airport (1947-1967)
Bandaranaike International Airport (1967-1978)
Fleet size 3 (In 1978)
Headquarters Colombo, Ceylon

Air Ceylon was the flag carrier airline of Sri Lanka (known as Ceylon until 1972) from 1947 until 1978, when it was replaced by Air Lanka.

History[edit]

An Air Ceylon Douglas DC-8 approaches Zurich Airport in 1977.
An Air Ceylon Hawker Siddeley Trident at Subang Airport in 1978.

Air Ceylon was established in 1947 as state-owned flag carrier airline, initially operating scheduled domestic flights using Douglas C-47 Dakota aircraft. International services with Douglas DC-4s commenced in 1949, in a co-operation with Australian National Airways (ANA), which acquired a 49 percent stake in Air Ceylon. The longest route flown at that time was to London Heathrow airport.[citation needed]

The partnership with ANA lasted until 1953,[citation needed] when it was replaced by new international co-operations: In 1956 with KLM,[1] which included the lease of 2 Lockheed Constellation airliners for long-haul flights, and with BOAC in 1962, allowing the re-launch of flights to London using the de Havilland Comet.[citation needed]

From the mid-1960s, the Hawker Siddeley HS 748 became the aircraft mainly used on Air Ceylon's short-haul routes, along with the Aérospatiale N 262. When Bandaranaike International Airport was completed in 1967, Air Ceylon opened its hub there. A Hawker Siddeley Trident jet airliner was purchased in 1969 and it was operated on regional routes until it was withdrawn in July 1978.[citation needed]

In 1972, Union de Transports Aériens (UTA) became Air Ceylon's partner, introducing French-made aircraft into the fleet. UTA ended the partnership on 31 March 1977, leaving Air Ceylon without a European aide.[1] In 1978, Air Ceylon was shut down by the Sri Lankan government due to bankruptcy, and Air Lanka was established as new national carrier.

Fleet[edit]

Before ending operations in 1978, Air Ceylon had 3 Douglas DC-8's. 2 of them were sold to Biman Bangladesh Airlines and Pomair. The other was scrapped.

Over the years, Air Ceylon operated the following aircraft types

Aircraft Introduced Retired
Aérospatiale N 262
1967
Boeing 707
Boeing 720
Convair 990 Coronado
de Havilland Comet
1962
Douglas DC-3
1947
Douglas DC-4
1949
Douglas DC-8
1972
Hawker Siddeley HS 748
1964
Hawker Siddeley Trident
1969
Lockheed Constellation
1956
Lockheed L-188 Electra
Sud Aviation Caravelle
Vickers VC10
1967

Destinations[edit]

1950s[edit]

During that period, Air Ceylon offered multiple-stopover flights, which were leaving Colombo on three routes: To Europe, to Australia, and a regional one to India. KLM was the important partner airline, serving as general sales agent for Air Ceylon.[2][3]

1960s[edit]

Due to more modern aircraft with a longer range, fewer stops were required on the long-distance routes, reducing travel time. Air Ceylon passengers could reach additional destinations (in Europe and towards Australia) with co-operative BOAC or Qantas flights.[4]

1970s[edit]

The co-operation with BOAC and Qantas was reduced at that time, instead a codeshare-like agreement was signed with Indian Airlines. As a consequence, Air Ceylon re-launched services to Australia and expanded its European network.[5][6][7]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On 21 December 1949, an Air Ceylon Douglas C-47 Dakota (registered VP-CAT) was damaged beyond repair in a crash landing at Tiruchirapalli Airport following a scheduled passenger flight from Jaffna. The 21 passengers and three crew members survived the accident.[8]
  • On 7 September 1978, an Air Ceylon Hawker Siddeley HS 748 (registered 4R-ACJ) was destroyed in a fire while parked at Ratmalana Airport. Two pilots had been carrying out pre-departure checkups, when the fire started by the explosion of a bomb in the aircraft cargo hold.[9]

References[edit]