Sustainable demand to increase frequencies from India: SriLankan Airlines

By Rohit Vaid

New Delhi, Nov 25 (IANS): Healthy passenger flow from India as well as reduced Covid restrictions will lead to more flights between India and Sri Lanka, said airline major SriLankan Airlines.

The airline is looking at servicing around 5 million Indian tourists to the island nation in the next 3 years or more, and plans to connect smaller but highly growth oriented destinations in India to Sri Lanka.

To achieve the number, the airline might exponentially increase the weekly frequencies to about 250-300 in the next 3 years or more.

In a conversation with IANS, SriLankan Airlines Chairman, Ashok Pathirage, said that during the pre-Covid era, the airline operated over 120 flights per week to nine cities in India.

"At present, we are operating 54 flights per week, ferrying about 1,500 passengers per day from India to Sri Lanka.

"We expect this number to gradually increase, but it might take one year's time for us to reach the pre-Covid level of flight frequencies to India."

According to Pathirage, accelerated vaccination drives along with lower Covid numbers should allow for more tourists from India to visit the island country.

"India is our biggest market, and we are dedicated to re-establish operations to full scale where the Indian market is concerned.

"We continued to operate both passenger and cargo flights to and from India even during periods of lockdown and despite many global travel restrictions."

Besides, he said the airline is ready to take on the upcoming competition from Tata Sons-backed Air India.

Furthermore, he said that the airline has launched flights to new destinations including Nairobi, Seoul, Moscow, Frankfurt, Sydney, Kathmandu, and Paris during 2020 and 2021.

"We plan to add more international destinations including in India."

"The trends like 'revenge travel' are some of the reasons for the rise in passenger numbers. This demand is sustainable and here to only grow further."



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