Srilankan Airlines is an apt illustration of the important role a national airline plays in facilitating tourism and connecting nations. The benchmarks set by the airline as detailed out by Chinthaka Weerasinghe, Manager Northern India – Srilankan Airlines and Subhash Goyal, Chairman STIC Travel Group, GSA-Srilankan Airlines at a press conference held held at Hotel The Park, Parliament Street, New Delhi on 23 November 2018 speaks volumes about its contribution to changing fortunes of tourism, hospitality and allied sectors in SriLanka.
The occasion here was the silver jubilee of the Srilankan Airline’s operations in India. It had commenced operations to DEL in June 1993 and which makes the airlines one of the longest standing airline operators to Delhi with 25 years of continuous operations.
“We started our operation with 2 weekly flights and now we have expanded our services to 2 daily flights after we started our double daily operation to DEL from this year. STIC travels has been our long standing GSA partner since the inception of the airline in 1979. STIC travels have been partnering SriLankan before this from 1974, when the national carrier of Sri Lanka was known as Air Ceylon. Both our flights from Delhi have convenient schedules using state of the art A320 New aircraft,” said Weerasinghe.
“At present SriLankan Airlines flies from 13 destinations mainly Australia, Singapore, Japan, China, Middle East & UK with 122 flights a week making us the largest international airline operating to India in terms of the number of destinations. Reaffirming our strong presence in India, we were crowned the World’s Best Airline to Indian Ocean and Asia’s Best Airline to Indian Ocean at the prestigious World Travel Awards 2017,” he added.
Majority of this traffic on SriLankan Airlines is round tour FIT leisure tours to Sri Lanka, however we have been witnessing a progressive growth in group travel in terms of MICE, Pilgrim tours and destination weddings, explained Weerasinghe as the airline is now seen MICE arrivals grow to about 15 % of all arrivals from Pan India basis.
“MICE groups prefer Sri Lanka due to the proximity to India and also due to multiple gateways assisting to the ease of handling a Pan India movement. In terms of Pilgrim movements Ramayana tours have become very popular and many operators are conducting back to back series departures. The latest trend for traffic has been destination weddings in Sri Lanka,” Weerasinghe added.
No wonders, the airline looks forward working closely together with our GSA partner STIC Group to further increase the numbers from India to Sri Lanka. One of the top reasons STIC has continued as preferred partner is the vision and potential STIC Group creates for its principles. For instance, SriLanka is likely to close the year 2018 welcoming a fraction short of 0.5 million arrivals from India and its GSA has initiated plans to double that in near future.
“India has a burgeoning outbound market. Over a million Indians visit Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. The same number should be visiting SriLanka that is close and has more enriching ties in terms of culture and people to people connect. In my opinion SriLanka deserves to be the gateway to Asia,” said Goyal.