SriLankan Airlines celebrates 25 years of direct operations from Colombo to Delhi, the airline’s fifth destination in India.
Chinthaka Weerasinghe, Manager—Northern India, SriLankan Airlines and Subhash Goyal, Chairman, Stic Travel Group, GSA of SriLankan Airlines, shared the story of the airline’s 25 years on the route at a press conference in New Delhi. Weerasinghe said, “We started operations way back in 1979 to start with Chennai and Mumbai. Delhi was the fifth destination where we started operating in June 1993. We started with two flights a week and now have expanded to two flights a day. In fact, Delhi has become one of the highest revenue generating markets for SriLankan Airlines’ network. We are expecting about 4.5 lakhs of arrivals this year with a growth of 15 per cent.”
Goyal added, “We are happy that we had a very successful inning as a GSA for the airline. We have been associated with SriLankan Airlines right from its inception. Earlier, we were the GSA for Air Ceylon, and we are perhaps the only GSA in the world that has been the GSA for Air Ceylon, SriLankan Airlines and Air Lanka. We have about a 38-year-old association with SriLankan Airlines.”
Currently, SriLankan Airlines flies from 13 destinations mainly Australia, Singapore, Japan, China, Middle East and the UK with 122 flights a week, which makes it the largest international airline operating to India in terms of the number of destinations.
With many Indian carriers starting operations to Sri Lanka, competition has also increased. However, Weeransinghe is taking it in his stride. “We welcome competition because when the airlines come, the prices go down and the destination becomes affordable. We welcome that. In fact, no other airline can provide connectivity between the two countries like us. We fly to five Indian metro cities and the rest are Tier-II cities.”
Goyal further said, “SriLankan Airlines has witnessed a double-digit growth with more than half a million tourists going to Sri Lanka. We really hope that in the years to come, we can compete with Thailand by crossing the one million tourist mark.”
He insisted that growth has been quite encouraging from Tier-II cities as well with load factors of 90 per cent.