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.
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.