Aviation

SriLankan expands India operations

COLOMBO: Focusing on India as a special market, Sri Lankan Airlines is ready to start its services to three new destinations, besides launching additional frequencies and improving connectivity in the country.

“We are adding Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam and Coimbatore by July when we take the delivery of the new Airbus fleet A320 Neo and A321 Neo. The flight frequency to the existing 12 cities will also be increased to 128 in a week from the present 107. We will also increase the existing frequencies to Kolkata, Mumbai and Delhi,” says Siva Ramachandran, Chief Commercial Officer, Sri Lankan Airlines, reports Business Line.

India is specifically an important market and the company is strategically expanding its reach in the region. The overall load factor on some Indian routes is still running close to 80 per cent while some witnessed more than that.

“We are also looking at adding Ahmedabad as a new destination by 2018-19, considering the industry growth and frequency of travel from the region,” he told BusinessLine in an interaction.

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The airline company, according to him, intends to reduce its dependence on the Gulf sector on account of dwindling revenues and would like to focus more on Far East, South Asia and South East Asian destinations.

“What is critical for the business today is cutting low yields and looking for high-yield passengers both tourists as well as business traffic”, he said.
To leverage Sri Lanka’s tourism boom, Ramachandran said plans are on the anvil to launch packages for holiday travel linking Colombo, Maldives and Seychelles and other Far East destinations.

The company is also looking at associating with Kerala-based destination marketing companies for the promotion of backwater tourism. Sri Lankan Airlines is presently operating 21 flights a week to the God’s Own Country.

Currently the annual growth rate in leisure travel from India to the island destination is 15-20 per cent, especially from Delhi and Chennai.

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