Sri Lankan Airlines has decided to increase the number of flights from India to Colombo, based on the open-sky policy that Sri Lanka shares with India.
The moves afoot include starting daily flights from Hyderabad from March 2005. Currently, the airlines runs four flights from the city and plans to add another from October 31, 2004.
It has also decided to add Ahmedabad and Kolkata to its network to address the issue of packed flights especially in the winter schedule.
Lal Talgaswatte, manager (western and central India), Sri Lankan Airlines, said that with Indian outbound traffic growing by 25 per cent, the airlines has decided to increase the total number of flights from India to 77 from the current 66.
One of the main reasons for this strategy is that among the total MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) tourists in Sri Lanka last year, about 65 per cent were from India.
Last year, Sri Lanka had about five lakh arrivals, out of which 90,000 were from India. Notwithstanding an increase in tariffs by about $10-30 due to fuel surcharge, there have been 67,900 tourist arrivals from India with over 5,000 being for conferences and incentives travel till September this year.
Overall, about 150 Indian MICE groups have visited Sri Lanka during this period, with 12 being from Hyderabad.
"The total revenue of the airlines last year was around SL Rs 4,600 crore (approximately Rs 2,300 crore/Rs 23 billion) , with India contributing about SL Rs 225 crore (approximately Rs 112 crore/Rs 1.12 crore).
This year, the airlines is targeting to earn about Rs 20 crore (Rs 200 million) from Hyderabad with an expected overall revenue growth of 15 per cent," Talgaswatte said.
The airlines will also be adding one wide-bodied and two narrow-bodied aircraft in the next few months, to meet the expansion plans, he added.