08 September 2010

India's Spice Jet Flies to Sri Lanka. British Airways Resume Flights to Colombo with Kingfisher

08th September 2010, www.lankabusinessonline.com

India's Spice Jet, the country's second largest budget carrier, will start flying to Sri Lanka daily from Chennai from October 09, after the airline received official nod to start international services.

The airline is selling online a Colombo - Chennai ticket at 5,098 rupees and Chennai - Colombo ticket at 3,185 making a total of 8,283 rupees for the return fare including taxes.

Spice Jet will fly to Kathmandu in Nepal from October 07. India approves private airlines to fly overseas after a carrier completes five years of operations and has a fleet of 20 aircraft.

"Connecting Colombo and Kathmandu from India strengthens our relationship and enables passengers to explore these destinations of choice at the most fascinating fares," Samyukth Sridharan, chief commercial officer of SpiceJet was quoted as saying by India's Business Standard newspaper.

"We are delighted to welcome Colombo and Kathmandu as a part of our new global network, and look forward to extending our hospitality to our passengers in this new phase of growth."

The newspaper said according to official civil aviation authority data IndiGo, the country's largest budget carrier had a market share of 16.9 percent and Spice Jet 13.2 percent.

IndiGo is expected to fly international from next year.

Prices on the India - Colombo sector was high when the route was limited to India's state carrier.

Especially after Sri Lanka freed visa restrictions to Indians, the island's SriLankan Airlines, then under management by Emirates became the largest foreign airline to fly to the country enjoying high premiums, and buying seat allocated to India under bi-lateral deals.

But the sector has become more competitive and SriLankan later halved its flight to the country, though it has started to increase frequencies to some destinations again, following the end of a 30-year war in the island.

India's aviation sector has expanded following de-regulation. Earlier this week British Airways said it will resume flights to Colombo through a code-share deal with Kingfisher, another Indian private carrier.

SriLanka does not have private international carriers.

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