Global carriers woo Indian holidaymakers this summer

Written by Shaheen Mansuri | Mumbai, May 7 | Updated: May 9 2008, 05:16am hrs
The lure of the Indian market, especially during the summer holidays, has prompted foreign airlines like SriLankan Airlines and German carrier Lufthansa to push sales of air tickets through innovate business strategies.

SriLankan Airlines has designed a package called 'Island Breaks', which offers two nights' and three days' stay in Sri Lanka, inclusive of air fares, taxes, star class hotel accommodation, breakfast, and hotel transfers. The package starts at Rs 10,499 from Thiruvanthapuram and Bangalore to Colombo and the fares from Mumbai start at Rs 14,999.

Says general manager SriLankan Holidays (the leisure marketing arm of SriLankan Airlines) Amith Sumanapala, "With the 'Island Breaks' offer, your holiday begins from the time you get onboard SriLankan Airlines." Last year, 30,000 Indian passengers travelled by SriLankan Airlines. This year, the airline expects 20% growth in passenger volumes.

Lufthansa, which has recently announced its thrice-weekly non-stop flights on the Mumbai-Munich sector, is also keen to fly more passengers to Germany and other parts of Europe from India.

Says Werner Heesen, director, south Asia, Lufthansa told FE, "A group of 11 German journalists have come to Mumbai to learn about the tourist destinations in Maharashtra.

The idea is to showcase Maharashtra as an ideal destination in the media in our country. Earlier, we have promoted West Bengal too in a similar fashion." he added

However, analysts feel that the idea behind propagating Indian destinations abroad by the airline is to ensure higher seat occupancy to and from India.

Sreesankar R, head of research, IL&FS Investmart opines, "The reason behind international carriers chasing Indian customers is multi-fold. First, holidaymakers want a change; they cannot visit the same international destination each year. Airlines design attractive fare packages and also promote newer destinations in a growing economy like India for ensuring better occupancy."

However, as per the data available with the Airports Authority of India (AAI), 16.21 million people flew on international routes from India during April-October 2007, up 17.1% over the same period in 2006.

AAI officials expect a sharp increase in passenger traffic to international destinations.