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HomeCompaniesFocusing on leisure travel, SriLankan Airlines bets big on Kerala market 

Focusing on leisure travel, SriLankan Airlines bets big on Kerala market 

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SriLankan Airlines is strengthening its presence in Kerala with a focus on leisure traffic, given the rise in tourism between the two regions.

The tourist inflow to the island nation is on the rise in the last three months with the figure in May crossing 83,000 and of this, 23,000 passengers are from India. In June, the figure was one lakh and in July it was 1,42,000 tourists with 24,000 passengers from India, said V. Ravindran, Regional Manager, SriLankan Airlines (India, Bangladesh & Nepal).

At present, there are 16 flights operating to Kerala with 10 to Kochi and 6 to Thiruvananthapuram on a weekly basis. However, the company was forced to discontinue some flight operations to Coimbatore and Kolkata during the crisis times in the island nation due to Covid, economic crisis etc that had drastically impacted tourism. Now things are coming back to normal, thanks to the government initiative to revive tourism activities, Ravindran, who was in Kochi told businessline.

Also Read | Sri Lankan Airlines expands India operations

The acceptance of Indian currency by the Sri Lankan government and the Central Bank has also given a boost to the tourism initiatives, he added.

To a question on the plans to increase frequency to India, he said it all depends on the availability of new aircraft and expanding new network destinations parallelly to other parts of the globe. The airline now has 23 aircraft against the requirement of 26. SriLankan Airlines has returned to pre-pandemic levels in terms of passenger traffic and the airline is going ahead with its plan to procure new aircraft to cater to the rising demand.

Even the student fraternity from India still consider Sri Lanka as a hub for their travel for overseas education to Australia, Europe and even for Canada, he added.

Asked about the recent resignation of a group of pilots from the airline, he said the company is managing with the situation and these pilots moved out for better pastures. Unlike Indian counterparts, their opportunities are limited.

Also Read | Aircraft, parts shortage hinder aviation industry’s growth plans: SriLankan CEO

On cargo operations, Ravindran said it is one of the key markets which the company wanted to sustain and develop from India. There is a need for more wide-bodied aircraft for expanding cargo business. “We operate a mix of wide-bodied and narrow-bodied aircraft to Chennai, Bangalore and Mumbai”, he said.

There is a good scope for the export of perishables mainly to West Asia from India and general cargo to other network points and the company will be ready to meet the demand, once it acquires more wide-bodied aircraft, he said. There is also considerable improvement in revenue and passenger traffic in the first quarter compared to the corresponding period of last year.





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