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Sri Lankan Airlines and Mihin Lanka have arranged a special flight to bring back a group of 120 pilgrims who were stranded in the Buddhist holy city of Bodh Gaya(Buddha Gaya) by the floods that have ravaged parts of India. 

The elderly pilgrims are being sheltered by the Prelate of the Buddhist vihara in Gaya.

The pilgrims had been scheduled to travel by road to Chennai and fly to Colombo, but flooding shut down the Chennai airport, leaving them stranded in Bodh Gaya. 

“Initially we tried to reroute these passengers through Calcutta, but given the situation and the stress these senior citizens are under, we thought it best to operate a special flight direct to Gaya,” Captain Suren Ratwatte, CEO of SriLankan Airlines said

“In the coming days we will expedite the repatriation of other pilgrim groups who are in Southern India as well, using special flights if required.” 

“This is an unprecedented national emergency that we must respond to,” he said. 

The Airbus A320 aircraft flown by budget carrier Mihin Lanka is scheduled to arrive in Bodh Gaya on the morning of Sunday, 6th December, and return to Colombo in the afternoon, with the flight expected to take 3 ½ hours

Meanwhile SriLankan Airlines says it has been compelled to cancel more flights following the announcement by the Indian aviation authorities that the aerodrome of the Chennai Airport will be closed for commercial operations till December 8. 

Accordingly the flights, UL 121, UL 122, UL 127, UL128, UL 123, UL 124 of December 6, UL 125, UL 126, UL 121, UL 122, UL 127, UL 128, UL 123, UL 124 and UL 125 of December 8 will not be operated.

SriLankan’s codeshare partner, Mihin Lanka’s flights MJ 129 and 130 have also been cancelled.

“The Airline is closely monitoring the situation, and will resume flights as soon as the Airport resumes operations,” a statement said.

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