SriLankan Airlines to fly Colombo-Melbourne from October

By David Flynn, May 29 2017
SriLankan Airlines to fly Colombo-Melbourne from October

SriLankan Airlines will begin daily direct flights between Melbourne and Colombo from October 29.

As previously reported by Australian Business Traveller, this marks a long-awaited return to Australian skies by the Oneworld airline and de facto Qantas partner and the only direct route from Australia to Sri Lanka.

Victoria is home to 50 per cent of Australia’s Sri Lankan population, according to the 2011 Australian census.

Here's the schedule for SriLankan's Melbourne-Colombo flights:

  • Flight UL605 departs Melbourne at 4.55pm to reach Colombo's Bandaranaike International airport at 10.15pm
  • Flight UL604 departs Colombo at 11.50pm to arrive into Melbourne at 3.25pm the following day

The flights will run on an Airbus A330-200 jet with 18 lie-flat business class seats in a 2-2-2 arrangement:

However, a spokesperson for SriLankan Airlines tells Australian Business Traveller "it's likely the A330-300 will be utilized as well in operations."

This will be a definite upgrade for travellers, with 28 modern business class seats similar to those of Cathay Pacific in a more convenient 1-2-1 layout:

PREVIOUS [May 1, 2016] | EXCLUSIVE | SriLankan Airlines will begin flying between Melbourne and Colombo towards the end of this year, marking the airline's long-awaited return to Australian skies.

A spokesperson for the Sri Lankan flag-carrier – which many years ago abandoned flights to both Sydney and Melbourne – indicated to Australian Business Traveller that the schedule could see four flights each week, using an Airbus A330 jet fitted with lie-flat business class seats to make the 11 hour journey.

This will be the only direct route from Australia to Sri Lanka – most travellers to the tiny island off the southern tip of India transit via Singapore, with onwards flights provided by SriLankan and Singapore Airlines.

Business class travellers and passengers holding the appropriate Qantas Frequent Flyer status will be able to use Qantas' Melbourne lounges, including the Qantas First Lounge for Qantas Platinum and Platinum One members.

Reciprocal access will see FlySmiles Gold members eligible to use the Qantas Business Lounge, while FlySmiles Platinums can luxe it up in the Qantas First Lounge.

Travellers will also have the option of pocketing frequent flyer miles in SriLankan's FlySmiles scheme or the Qantas Frequent Flyer program.

Earlier this week Australia's International Air Services Commission renewed limited codeshare agreements between Qantas, Emirates and SriLankan Airlines for flights to Colombo via Singapore, and between Virgin Australia and Singapore Airlines for flights to Colombo via Singapore.


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


03 May 2013

Total posts 672

Great to see another OW option coming to OZ. Have never flown Sri Lankan and wonder if their past Emirates affiliation still shows in hard/soft product and safety?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Apr 2017

Total posts 134

Product is solid enough. I never really liked them but only flown them short haul. They used to do the DXB to KWI run and the planes (A330) seemed old and the staff were inattentive. Apparently they've gotten better - I look forward to trying. 

08 May 2017

Total posts 3

The EK seats were on UL's older A340s. These are no longer in use by UL. IMHO, its current J product is much better than EK, although a lot understated. EK still fits 2-3-2 in its J cabin without even a full flat bed, on the 777s. UL is 1-2-1 and fully flat.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Sep 2012

Total posts 235

UL has a good safety record as well, their only aircraft losses were due to terrorist attacks from the Civil war. From memory they've won awards from Airbus for reliability. 


04 Jul 2013

Total posts 22

Have flown UL a few times in J class & they have a very good product. I imagine it will be a good option to the subcontinent & the ME & should do well out of MEL.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2014

Total posts 112

I have also recently flown their J product from the ME to NRT (and rtn) and they have a solid 3-4 star offering. Friendly helpful crew, good food, reasonable wine. The lounge in CMB is dated but OK, the food there not so great.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Mar 2014

Total posts 204

I'm surprised they didn't launch to Perth with a 332, would only be around 7.5 hrs flying time, and feed into the east coast through QF, in a similar way to other Indian Ocean operations, SAA and MK.

Still good to have another OW carrier at MEL, great way to fly business class to London.

07 Mar 2013

Total posts 31

Melbourne is the epicentre of Sri Lankan Australians...with nearly twice as many as Sydney and WA a million miles behind. I'm sure that goes some way towards the rationale for MEL. 

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

16 May 2011

Total posts 113

They currently do that through SIN with QF, why bother with PER and have an uncompetitive 1 stop option when MEL pax could take other airlines like MH, SQ and TG too? Like bcworld has said, the local Sri Lankan population in Melbourne is the largest in Australia with high O&D and VFR demand, so it makes sense that the flight goes direct to MEL. 

Let's hope the schedules line up well with LHR! I agree, would be a great OW option.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Feb 2014

Total posts 26

Subcontinent will be the target. Hard to compete with ME3.

Is QF going to codeshare on this new UL flight? Or will they still route via SIN, presumably at a more competitive price than the direct CMB/MEL service?

 Who doesn't love more TP/SC at a cheaper price eh?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Aug 2016

Total posts 9

Will this be a triangular route CMB-SYD-MEL-CMB?

10 Aug 2015

Total posts 125

Does it say that?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Feb 2015

Total posts 34

Do they even mention Sydney in the article

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Feb 2014

Total posts 26

Wished it was triangular....would think it will be late night out of Melb to connect to subcontinent and Maldives and Gulf.  Also means domestic connection to Syd. Another OW option but SC earning rate will be same as MH to Kul. LHR is their only port in Europe.. A330's all new with same seating as CX. I expect CMB pricing to be more than India..they will be competing with Air India's non stop service. There is a recent blog rating UK economy one of the best...

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2011

Total posts 361

Liking this as an alternate Maldives option.

15 Sep 2012

Total posts 93

This will be a very popular  option for travel to Sri Lanka, India, and Maldives  as well as Europe. Sri Lankan  has a much better reputation  than air india! When KLM used to fly 747 in the 80s nonstop melbourne  to Colombo , was very popular  with indian and sri lankan communities as easy connection s in Colombo. My father flew this several times!  Melbourne  has a huge Indian population who will welcome this


21 Jul 2011

Total posts 90

UL is a nice J experience. It's no QF or QR but neither are the prices. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 Dec 2012

Total posts 66

Great news for the SubContinent & Middle East. They have Daily connections from CMB to the major cities in Pakistan, India & Bangladesh; Nepal and the Middle East also...

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Jul 2014

Total posts 100

Flew in J from SIN to CMB last week with them
Old style seats  but excellent service and the Sri Lankan
Breakfast  was the best meal I have ever had in the Sky
The 9-45am flight arrives at 11am so you can avoid the dreadful traffic
Hint don't  organise a Taxi before hand they charge an extra 1750 rupees for having your name  on a placard
Just walk outside and get a cab
The biggest company is Kangaroo Cabs fixed fee from Airport
[2500 Rupee] Tell the driver  to take the  Freeway which you pay the Toll  of 300 rupees

08 May 2017

Total posts 3

@akronflyer What you have flown is actually their narrow-body product, which is akin to QF's domestic 737s. I guess the flight which runs to MEL will operate with one of their new A330-300s, that have all-aisle access on J.

There seems to be a minor mistake in the article which refers to UL J product as lie-flat. In fact, all wide-body aircraft in UL fleet have full flat bed seats in J.

08 May 2017

Total posts 3

I think you could have probably flown on one of its narrow-body aircraft which it uses for the SIN leg. That product is more akin to QF domestic.

On UL's new A330-300s, it has the same J class seat as CX and seats in a 1-2-1 layout with all aisle access.

I think the article has a small mistake calling UL's A330 as having lie-flat seats. These are in fact full-flat bed seats. Source:

The aircraft has Wi-Fi too but I'm not sure if the route will have coverage. UL's Wi-Fi rates are pretty decent.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

03 Nov 2013

Total posts 11

I did a UL J RT BKK CMB last year. Agree with all the other positive posts about the in flight J food and service. I really appreciated the tea trolley silver service. The pots are old but by gee, so shiny! in CMB I consider the UL Serendip lounge punches well above its weight. The buffet is interesting, Lanson bubbles, respectable white and red and main spirits/mixes. Pleasant tarmac view - sure not so quiet. The free foot or head/shoulder 20 min massage is also offered, and was great. Overall, 3.5 stars+ in J . CMB checkin though, rates lower- IMHO.

17 Nov 2016

Total posts 15

UL are operating a 332 on the route not a 333 so the seating is 2-2-2.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Feb 2014

Total posts 26

Same they are running the 200's presuming due to bigger freight capacity. But good timings for domestic​ connections. Though no doubt SC earn will be poor similar to MH  just checked CMB to Melbourne return in Business 1900AUD  will be X3 for the other way no doubt.

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1245

You can almost always find cheap premium cabin fares ex-CMB on many airlines.


14 Nov 2011

Total posts 21

Great news. However this doesn't connect well with the daily London flights (unless this changes). 

10 Aug 2015

Total posts 113

How would one learn if there are connecting flight options with QF from Canberra to join this flight? Sri Lanka is gorgeous and I would so love for my extended family to experience the island.
Colombo airport, especially the lounge, is not that exciting. No where one would want to look forward to for an extended stay of more than an hour.
Onboard the tea service is sublime. Perhaps it has changed in the past two years but the business class offering could do with better linen and possibly a comforter for the seats when in fully flat mode.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Feb 2014

Total posts 26

First flight today with a A333 wonder if this will be on permanent rotation or just inaugural. Press release when they announced noted A332. A333 newer with direct aisle access..

16 Mar 2018

Total posts 1

Our experience was not so good with this travel.

We booked our tickets well ahead (4 months) and managed to find a bassinet for our daughter for the trip Mel- Col.

The story was totally different with the return trip.

We were told all the bassinets were booked out.

Yes, it can be possible and there may be passengers with infants who booked ahead of us.

But we heard something suspicious from the next counter.

The officer was offering an extra leg space seat for extra money to a passenger.

Anyway, we proceed to board and couldn't find hardly any parents who hold infants in bassinet seats.

Instead, most of the infants were sent to the back seats including us.

Actually one of the passengers who was offered extra space was sitting on one of those bassinet seats.

Hello SL airlines, how come a passenger on that day can book a bassinet (extra leg space) seat when someone requested these seat months ahead? When do you stop these cheap tactics?

It was not just my poor infant but my other daughter, both of us, nearby passengers, and even crew were suffered from this long trip due to an unsettled infant.

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