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Sri Lankan Focuses To Increase Load Factors In 2018

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With a network of 135 flights per week from 14 cities, Sri Lankan Airlines now looks to maximise on these routes in 2018. Last year, the airline introduced three new routes namely, Vishakhapatnam, Hyderabad and Coimbatore. Till September 2017, Sri Lankan Airlines has ferried 1,840,611 passengers from India.

Speaking about the growth Udeni Perera, Manager- Western India, Sri Lankan Airlines said, “We just completed our previous financial year; we have a significant growth in the business. One of the main reason is we have visa on arrival and also there is similarity in the culture and tradition. Adjoining to Sri Lanka, we have Maldives which is again very popular amongst the Indians. Sri Lankan Airlines is the best connection for Maldives; this is again a big market for us. Compared to previous year, we have grown by around 20 per cent.”

The 14 markets include Delhi, Mumbai, Vishakhapatnam, Chennai, Coimbatore, Trivandrum Kolkata, Kochi, Bangalore, Varanasi, Gaya, Trichy, Madurai and Hyderabad. The group has no plans to expand this year, but the next destination which is airline looks at is Ahmedabad.

“Last year, we added new destinations like Hyderabad, Vishakhapatnam and Coimbatore and we also increased frequencies to Mumbai and Delhi. All these flights are popular and product is growing. Mumbai flights up to last financial year we were reaching up to 80 per cent seat factor. Our Mumbai flights are ideal for both leisure and MICE. Overall in India, we are maintaining a load factor of over 75 per cent in all our flights. Compared to previous years, our seat factor on the Business class cabin is up to around 60 to 62 per cent, earlier it was 50-55 per cent. This is a significant increase,” Perera added.

Further speaking about expansion plans he said, “Since we have expanded our operations last year, this year we will try and maximise on our existing routes. We will maximise our existing routes on the 14 destinations and look to increase the load factor this year. However, our next potential destination is Ahmadabad. But, there is no concrete plans or decided date as of now.”

The airline is also looking to increase the onward traffic share from India market. Currently, Sri Lankan Airlines provides connectivity to Maldives and Melbourne from India. “From India, a lot of travellers like to take Sri Lankan Airlines beyond Colombo. Maldives is a very popular destination for Indians. We also have good connectivity to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Hong Kong which are very popular with competitive rate. Passengers also travel to Middle East with us. Recently, we added Jakarta and Dhaka. Our most demanded destination is also Melbourne which was started last year. From Mumbai, the connecting time for Melbourne is not even an hour.”

Sharing his perspective on India market and plans for codeshares, Perera said that the airline already has codeshares with Jet Airways, Air India and Vistara. “India is one of the largest in the aviation world, in terms of internal aviation market there is a huge scope and there are a lot of orders by the low cost carriers. This market is developing on a daily basis. Sri Lankan Airlines is also always eyeing for expansion in this market as it has a huge potential,”


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