Eyeing the growth in passenger traffic between India and Australia, SriLankan Airlines has launched a direct flight service to Melbourne from its Colombo hub.
Launched on October 29, 2017, the service is aimed at attracting Indian passenger traffic to Melbourne, says Dimuthu Tennakoon, Head of Worldwide Sales and Distribution, SriLankan Airlines.
"Given the number of Indians domiciled in Australia and the students who pursue higher education, and now with the one-stop connectivity offered by us, we are certain to witness travel movements throughout the year," Tennakoon told IANS.
"On the other hand, India with its cultural vibrancy will be of much interest to the Australian travellers... We see a great potential for both VFR (visiting friends and relatives) and leisure travel."
As a key cultural, sports, educational and employment centre of Australia, Melbourne has emerged as a preferred destination for Indian travellers in the recent past.
According to Tourism Australia, by August 2017, the number of tourist arrivals from India has been 286,200 which has shown a growth of 15.3 per cent, compared to the numbers recorded during the same period last year.
Besides the new flight offering, the airline hopes to cash in on the fact that it has the largest operations of any foreign carrier in India.
Presently, it has over 120 frequencies to 14 Indian destinations.
"SriLankan Airlines is currently the foreign carrier that operates out of the most number of Indian destinations," said Tennakoon.
"Our connectivity beyond Colombo to the Far East, Middle East, United Kingdom and now to Australia has certainly given us the advantage."
The airline also intends to increase its frequencies to key Indian destinations to cater to the expected demand from India to Melbourne.
"With the view of strengthening regional focus, we have planned frequency increases to Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore for 2017," he added.
# Rohit Vaid was in Melbourne on an invitation of SriLankan Airlines.