SriLankan Airlines is experiencing increased demand, with flights to key destinations currently flying at capacity. The carrier is slowly heading towards achieving post-pandemic passenger recovery, and many of the airline’s flights have witnessed an impressive rebound.
In Asia, India remains its number one international destination despite their numbers not reaching pre-pandemic levels. However, in Australia, the carrier bounced back, firmly surpassing the capacity recorded in 2019.
SriLankan Airlines has been struggling for the last two years, but the carrier has managed to be flexible during the pandemic, establishing new markets based on demand and adding more stops in India to some of their long-haul flights during the fuel crisis.
India’s Substantial Traffic
India plays a massive role in SriLankan Airlines since it remains the carrier’s top international destination. However, passenger volume is still low compared to pre-pandemic levels. The airline carried 130,000 passengers, a considerable drop compared to 450,000 in 2019, partly due to the reduction of weekly flights from the usual 125 to 90.
The carrier removed two destinations from India; Coimbatore and Kolkata. Currently, the airline is flying to nine Indian cities; Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Madurai, Tiruchirappalli, and Trivandrum.
In an interview, Dimuthu Tennakoon, Head of Worldwide Sales and Distribution, said:
“We want to strengthen the current operations first, only then will we start thinking about adding new destinations. Currently, we are operating to the nine destinations with limited frequencies, but we have a minimum of daily flights out of all Indian cities and a maximum of 3-4 flights a day out of some cities.”
Before the pandemic, the Indian market accounted for 15% of Sri Lankan total revenue. After the pandemic, it has dropped to 10%, but India still contributes to most tourist arrivals and supplies many connecting travellers. The airline is ready to welcome more tourists from India and other markets. The carrier aims to play a crucial role in the Sri Lankan tourism industry.
Additional Connecting Traffic
Australia is a crucial flight connecting destination for Indian Travelers seeking a connection out of Colombo. Also, Qantas and Air India direct flights from Bengaluru and New Delhi have impacted connecting travellers. SriLankan daily flights to Melbourne and three to Sydney have witnessed good numbers.
The carrier has seen decent traffic from South India for connecting flights to the Middle East and London from cities such as Kochi and Trivandrum.
Operation Resumes In China
SriLankan Airlines had its Chinese market adversely affected by the pandemic. Despite the challenges, the carrier continued to operate weekly flights to Guangzhou, but soon, the airline plans to operate weekly flights to three Chinese cities – three flights each to Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai. The carrier expects more demand since it is already getting more inquiries.
Australian Network Performance
The airline’s Australian network has recovered, entirely surpassing pre-COVID numbers. This has been contributed by introducing a new service to Sydney during the pandemic. The carrier operates a daily flight to Melbourne accompanied by three flights to Sydney. These services are popular with both Indian and Sri Lankan passengers.
The airline has seen good traffic from their flights to Europe. Currently, SriLankan Airlines operates nine flights to London, three to Paris and Frankfurt each. However, due to demand, flights to Paris and Frankfurt resumed during COVID.
The pandemic has contributed to the shift in the passenger segment despite the airline’s operating at capacity. Pre-pandemic, flights to European destinations carried tourists, but lately, most are Sri Lankan travellers flying in and out of the country following the opening of international routes.
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