Air Ceylon

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Air Ceylon
Air Ceylon logo.png
IATA ICAO Callsign
AE AE CEYLON
Founded 1947 (1947)
Colombo, Ceylon
Ceased operations 1979 (1979)
Hubs Ratmalana Airport (1947-1967)
Bandaranaike International Airport (1967-1979)
Fleet size 2 (in 1979)
Headquarters Colombo, Ceylon

Air Ceylon was founded in 1947 as the flag carrier airline of Sri Lanka (known as Ceylon until 1972). The airline discontinued flights to Europe in early 1978 and finally ceased all local services on 31 August 1979, when it was replaced by Air Lanka.[1]

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 international flights to Madras (India) via Jaffna (Ceylon) and Trichinopoly with two Douglas C-47 Dakota (DC-3) aircraft.[2] Services to London with two Douglas DC-4s leased from Australian National Airways (ANA) commenced in summer 1949, after ANA acquired a 49 percent stake in Air Ceylon earlier that year.[3][4] Flights to Sydney in a co-operation with ANA were started on 20 July 1950 via Singapore and Darwin.[5]

Air Ceylon discontinued all long-haul fights and gave up its partnership with ANA in September 1953 after BOAC had introduced de Havilland Comet between London and Colombo.[6][7] The 49 percent stake held by ANA was taken over by KLM in 1955.[8]

Flights to London were commenced again on 21 February 1956 using a Lockheed 749A Constellation leased from KLM.[9] The aircraft was replaced by a Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation in 1958, followed by a KLM Lockheed L-188 Electra that was leased until the partnership with KLM ended in November 1961.[10] A Comet from BOAC allowing the re-launch of flights to London in April 1962. The aircraft was replaced by a leased Vickers VC10 in November 1965.[11]

From 1964 the Hawker Siddeley HS 748 became the aircraft mainly used on Air Ceylon's short-haul routes to Madras and Bombay, along with the Aérospatiale N 262, that was bought in 1967. 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 A Hawker Siddeley Trident jet airliner was purchased in 1969 and it was operated on regional routes to until it was withdrawn in August 1979.[12][13]

In 1972, Union de Transports Aériens (UTA) became Air Ceylon's partner, selling one Douglas DC-8 to the airline and giving technical support. UTA ended the partnership in September 1976, leaving Air Ceylon without a European aide.[14] In 1979, Air Ceylon was shut down by the Sri Lankan government due to bankruptcy, and Air Lanka was established as new national carrier.

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.[15][16]

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.[17]

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.[18][19][20]

Terminated Destinations[edit]

Country-City Airport Code Airport Name Notes Refs
IATA ICAO
Australia
Darwin DRW YPDN Darwin International Airport Terminated
Sydney SYD YSSY Sydney Airport Terminated
Bahrain
Bahrain BAH OBBI Bahrain International Airport Terminated
Egypt
Cairo CAI HECA Cairo International Airport Terminated
France
Paris CDG LFPG Charles de Gaulle Airport Terminated
India
Madras MAA VOMM Chennai International Airport Terminated
Bombay BOM VABB Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport Terminated
Tiruchirappalli TRZ VOTR Tiruchirappalli International Airport Terminated
Indonesia
Jakarta CGK WIII Soekarno–Hatta International Airport Terminated
Israel
Tel Aviv TLV LLBG Ben Gurion International Airport Terminated
Italy
Rome FCO LIRF Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport Terminated
Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur KUL WMKK Kuala Lumpur International Airport Terminated
Maldives
Malé MLE VRMM Ibrahim Nasir International Airport Terminated
Netherlands
Amsterdam AMS EHAM Amsterdam Schiphol Airport Terminated
Pakistan
Karachi KHI OPKC Jinnah International Airport Terminated
Sri Lanka
Ampara ADP VCCG Ampara Airport Terminated
Batticaloa BTC VCCB Batticaloa Airport Terminated
colombo CMB VCBI Bandaranaike International Airport Terminated
colombo RML VCCC Ratmalana Airport Terminated
Jaffna JAF VCCJ Jaffna Airport Terminated
Trincomalee TRR VCCT China Bay Airport Terminated
Singapore
Singapore SIN WSSS Singapore Changi Airport Terminated
Thailand
Bangkok BKK VTBS Suvarnabhumi Airport Terminated
United Kingdom
London LHR EGLL London Heathrow Airport Terminated

Fleet[edit]

Before ending operations in 1979, Air Ceylon had 1 Hawker Siddeley HS 748 and 1 Hawker Siddeley Trident.

Over the years, Air Ceylon operated the following aircraft types

Aircraft Introduced Retired
Aérospatiale N 262
1967
1969
Boeing 707
Boeing 720
1976
1977
Convair 990 Coronado
1974
1975
de Havilland Comet
1962
1965
Douglas DC-3
1947
1976
Douglas DC-4
1949
1953
Douglas DC-8
1972
1978
Hawker Siddeley HS 748
1964
1979
Hawker Siddeley Trident
1969
1979
Lockheed Constellation
1956
1958
Lockheed Super Constellation
1958
1960
Lockheed L-188 Electra
1960
1961
Sud Aviation Caravelle
Vickers VC10
1965/1977
1971/1978


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.[21]
  • 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.[22]

References[edit]


External links[edit]