Vistara, a full service carrier owned between India’s Tata group and Singapore Airlines has started flights to Sri Lanka as arrivals recovered from a downturn from a suicide bomb attack in April.
Vistara’s Chief Strategy Officer Vinod Kannan said the grounding of JetAirways which opened up opportunities for domestic expansion as rights were re-distributed to surviving airlines and the Easter Sunday attacks delayed the launch of Colombo flights.
“We were looking at Colombo sometime early this year, but there were a few things that happened along the way,” Vinod Kannan told Economynext.
“And of course we had terrible incidents here as well in Colombo at that time. But now it is all behind us. Sri Lanka is such a beautiful destination and you can’t keep it hidden for long, it is only a matter of time. And we already see people coming back.”
India is Sri Lanka’s top generating market for tourists. Following the Easter Sunday attacks arrivals fell to 11,246 in May 2019 fro 42,000 a year earlier. By October arrivals had recovered to 33,000, down from 38,000 a year earlier.
Vistara currently has a fleet of 36 aircraft flying to 34 destinations.
Kannan along said the airline’s focus was Colombo but the airline may look at Jaffna and Mattala at a later date.
Its general sales agent in Sri Lanka is Hayleys. Dimo a unit of Hayleys is also the agents for Tata vehicles in Sri Lanka.
Unlike most Indian private airlines which are at the budget end, Vistara is a full service carrier.
Cabins of Vistara aircraft are also configured to have a ‘premium economy’ class.
“What people need is punctuality and comfort which they excel at and I am confident that Vistara will keep on adding new destinations to Sri Lanka,” Hayleys Chairman Mohan Pandithage said.
Premium Economy Class comes with 20 percent more leg room than regular Economy class, more meal choices, separate boarding queues along with priority baggage handling.
The Mumbai-Colombo flights are operated six day a week, except Wednesdays. The airlines began flying in 2015.