Sri­Lankan bullish on South In­dia

De­spite lim­it­ing its ex­pan­sion in In­dia, Sri­Lankan Air­lines has in­creased fre­quen­cies to Chen­nai and Ben­galuru through­out last year as a re­sult of huge mar­ket de­mand.

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Sri­Lankan Air­lines has been con­stantly mon­i­tor­ing de­mand in In­dia in or­der to be quick on the draw. Af­ter an­nounc­ing a code-share agree­ment with Mi­hin Lanka for the op­er­a­tions of flights be­tween Kolkata and Colombo, it also un­der­took ex­pan­sion plans in In­dia by in­creas­ing fre­quen­cies to Chen­nai and Ben­galuru through­out last year. It cur­rently op­er­ates four flights a day to Chen­nai; dou­ble daily flights to Tiruchi­rap­palli and Cochin; daily flights to Tri­van­drum, Mum­bai and Delhi and eleven flights a week to Ben­galuru.

Speak­ing on this, Sa­minda Perera, GM (Cor­po­rate Com­mu­ni­ca­tions), Sri­Lankan Air­lines, says, “Th­ese fre­quency in­creases are based on mar­ket de­mand. How­ever, Sri­Lankan has not un­der­taken any ex­pan­sion plans in In­dia re­cently. Hav­ing said that, we are con­stantly look­ing for op­por­tu­ni­ties to ex­pand our reach in In­dia. We do not have im­me­di­ate ex­pan­sion plans, but fre- quency in­creases will take place in line with the mar­ket trends and de­mand.”

The na­tional car­rier of Sri Lanka is also con­duct­ing ac­tiv­i­ties along with the Sri Lanka Con­ven­tion Bureau to en­dorse the sev­eral fa­cil­i­ties of­fered for host­ing MICE ac­tiv­i­ties in Sri Lanka. Th­ese ef­forts are fo­cused to­ward im­ple­ment­ing a long-term plan to en­hance Sri Lanka’s pro­file as a MICE desti­na­tion and be­com­ing a premier con­fer­ence lo­ca­tion in the In­dian Ocean.

Shar­ing the num­ber of pas­sen­gers trav­el­ling from In­dia to Sri Lanka, Perera says, “Dur­ing the fi­nan­cial year 201415, Sri­Lankan car­ried 6,21,464 pas­sen­gers and from April to Septem­ber this year, the num­ber was 3,45,579. We have wit­nessed high de­mand from Chen­nai. Out of 621,464, around 45 per cent travel be­yond Sri Lanka.” With more than 15 years in the air trans­port in­dus­try, Perera was ap­pointed to his cur­rent post in June 2015.

Sri­Lankan Air­lines had en­hanced its flights to Chen­nai from Colombo with the ad­di­tion of a fourth flight in April 2015, re­in­forc­ing the sig­nif­i­cance of the In­dian mar­ket and specif­i­cally Chen­nai for the air­line. This brought the to­tal fre­quency of flights be­tween Sri Lanka and In­dia to 86 flights per week. “Chen­nai is a key mar­ket for us and one of the fastest grow­ing cities in South­ern In­dia. While we have al­ways re­ceived a strong re­sponse from this mar­ket, Chen­nai serves as a key busi­ness hub for all multi­na­tional cor­po­ra­tions. This daily flight caters to grow­ing busi­ness, cor­po­rate and leisure de­mand be­tween Sri Lanka and Chen­nai. The in­creased fre­quency also re­in­forces our com­mit­ment to Chen­nai and will strengthen the deep com­mer­cial and bi­lat­eral ties be­tween In­dia and Sri Lanka,” added Perera. The air­line saw over 2,25,000 ar­rivals from Chen­nai to Colombo in 2014.

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