Sri Lankan to access more Indian cities with 200 weekly flights by 2025
The Morning: Sri Lankan Airlines expects to access three to four more key cities in India, including Ahmedabad, within the next one-year period, employing a two-pronged strategy of increasing frequency with a target of 200 weekly flights to India by 2025, according to Sri Lankan Airlines Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Richard Nuttall.
According to The Hindu, Nuttall said that the airline plans to increase the frequency of daily flights by double in order to generate more traffic to make use of the rise in spending power as well as the number of Indian nationals who can afford to travel against the backdrop of the economic growth in India.
The airline already operates flights to nine Indian cities: Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Kochi, and Thiruvananthapuram, while three daily flights operate to Chennai alone.
“All major cities should be doubled daily. That should help grow traffic coming to Sri Lanka as well as beyond, particularly to Australia, Thailand, China, and Japan,” he said.
Hyderabad is among the cities to which frequency increase is under consideration by the airline. From the existing six flights a week to Hyderabad, Sri Lankan Airlines “should be trying to get towards double (the number of flights) daily. We need to increase (flights to) Hyderabad,” Nuttall said.
Referring to Sri Lankan Airlines’ plans, Nuttall said: “Probably, the obvious one will be Ahmedabad. in 12 months,” adding that the airline would prefer to launch the flights earlier depending on how soon more aircraft are added to the fleet. Coimbatore, Kolkata, and Visakhapatnam are likely to be other cities to which the carrier is expected to fly.
Moreover, he said that the number of tourists expected to arrive in Sri Lanka from India is 1.5 million in 2023 while the monthly average of Indian tourists is expected to increase to 100,000 in the medium term from the current average of 25,000.
He said that Sri Lankan Airlines was the first to operate 100 flights a week to India, a number that is down to about 90 now.
On the matter of privatization, Nuttal said that the Government of Sri Lanka is looking into whether the airline should be privatized or not. “They don’t want to make big decisions (as) somebody (who) wants to buy might want to have a say in what the model is going forward,” he said.
Sri Lanka and India enjoy strong historical, bilateral and trade ties that have resulted in an operational free trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries. India is also a key development partner of Sri Lanka as well as Indian tourists are among the highest visitors to the country as well. India and Sri Lanka have already signed many development cooperation agreements covering all key economic sectors. It is in such a backdrop that Sri Lanka’s national carrier is looking at increasing flights between the two countries. It is a clear indication of the growing business, tourism and trade ties between Sri Lanka and India. There are already many Indian businesses operating in Sri Lanka recording growth and profits. Other Indian businesses/investors could therefore confidently explore the expanding business/investment opportunities in Sri Lanka. They could also look at forming partnerships or joint ventures with local businesses with the aim of further expansion.
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