Travel Trade Journal

SriLankan, capitalisi­ng on the tourist movement from India and the world

- Prashant Nayak

The SriLankan government has reopened the island nation to fully vaccinated Indian tourists, which comes as a big relief for the internatio­nal holiday seekers. Currently, India accounts for over 120 million fully vaccinated citizens, which means a huge potential in the tourist segment for Sri Lanka. For the same, SriLankan Airlines is strengthen­ing its presence in India with more destinatio­ns and frequencie­s offering travellers to enjoy the freedom of travel. Dimuthu Tennakoon, Head, Worldwide Sales & Distributi­on, SriLankan Airlines shares more about the airline’s adaptabili­ty, strategies and present progress in the pandemic.

Despite a global aviation slowdown, SriLankan Airlines continued adding new destinatio­ns in 2020. The airline resumed flying to Nairobi, Korea, Russia, Frankfurt, Sydney during the pandemic. They are looking forward to beginning their flights to Paris and also planning to add Kathmandu soon. Their global network is expanding and they have been carefully adding new destinatio­ns, keeping into considerat­ion the factors like traffic, frequency, and travellers’ response.

Just like every other airline, Srilankan too adapted several ways to survive the pandemic since early 2020. Dimuthu shares, “This has been a difficult time for the entire world, including SriLankan Airlines. With global restrictio­ns in place, we engaged actively to operate repatriati­on flights across key sectors, which kept us occupied and generated revenue. Cargo was another key segment that kept us hopeful. Like many carriers around the world in the COVID-19 crisis, we also turned to cargo, which helped us keep our aircraft in service and generate revenue. Cargo operations have proved so successful that the carrier will prioritise cargo in terms of future network and fleet planning.”

Presently, SriLankan is looking at maximising the tourist movement that has begun all over the world. India is the biggest source market for SriLankan Airlines and many Indians are looking forward to travel. “The vaccinatio­n drive in India is being done at a great speed and there is a considerab­le chunk of the population that is fully vaccinated. We are also accepting those who have taken the Covaxin vaccine. We are looking at engaging them and opening borders for them. The airline is increasing frequency so that it could be easier for more people to travel,” says Dimuthu.

Srilankan is launching only those new flights which are helping them generate revenue. They first analyse a destinatio­n with a calculativ­e approach and then go for the launch, ensuring to not lose on profitabil­ity. Cargo is also a big revenue earner for them and they are going places with SriLankan Cargo.

SriLankan Airlines currently operates four flights a week from Chennai, three flights a week from Mumbai, and once a week from Bangalore to its hub in Colombo. To strengthen ongoing operations, SriLankan has introduced a host of frequency enhancemen­ts out of key Indian cities into Colombo effective September 1, 2021. The airline will be resuming services between Colombo and the Indian points; Madurai, Tiruchirap­palli, Trivandrum, and Cochin with flights once a week, whilst Hyderabad and New Delhi will be connected to Colombo with twice-weekly flights.

Further, the Airlines’ operations out of Chennai and Mumbai will expand up to five times a week whilst its Bangalore-Colombo services will be enhanced to flights three times a week. Before the outbreak of the pandemic, the airline operated an extensive network out of 11 Indian cities over 120 flights a week to Colombo, connecting travellers to the resplenden­t island and beyond.

SriLankan Airlines currently holds the highest attainable ‘Diamond’ status from the recently concluded APEX Health and Safety Audit, thus affirming its stature as an airline with the highest focus on passenger safety and wellbeing throughout the passenger journey. There will be further emphasis on strict safety protocols in place, with staff and crew maintainin­g sanitizati­on, social distancing and special kits. On relatively empty flights, passengers will be assigned alternate seats to maintain distance. These steps at the airline will further help them to encourage more people to travel.

Dimuthu remains optimistic about aviation’s long-term future as he says, “Though the aviation industry all over the world has suffered, it continues to be the most trusted mode of transport for many. People are willing to travel. Once the situation settles a bit, air travel will regain its glory.”

 ?? ?? Dimuthu Tennakoon
Dimuthu Tennakoon

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