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India’s GoAir launches Sri Lanka flights, says Coronavirus scare boosting intra-South Asian travel

ECONOMYNEXT – India’s GoAir is launching flights to Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo from Delhi and Bangalore from March 20, with intra-South Asian destinations becoming more attractive amid an outbreak of Coronavirus, officials said.

GoAir flight G839 will fly to Colombo, leaving Delhi at 1035hours and return from Sri Lanka’s capital at 1410hours, except Wednesdays.

Flight G840 will leave Bangalore at 1510 hours and return from Colombo at 1900hours, except Wednesdays.

The airline is launching flights as many Asian carriers pressured by Coronavirus outbreak in China and Korea.

But GoAir says there is tendency for travelers to increase South Asian travel, as they try to avoid East Asian destinations.

GoAir is already flying to the Maldives. Colombo will be its second South Asian destination.

“People who are otherwise flying towards, Indonesia or towards China…are now flying to Sri Lanka, they are flying to Maldives,” Bakul Gala, Vice President Corporate Communications, GoAir said.

“So it is the reverse. You are getting the benefit of those markets that are facing a challenge. Maldives has no problem. Sri Lanka has no problem.”

Sri Lanka has so far has had only one Coronavirus patient, a Chinese national who has been treated and sent home. Visa restrictions are in place for visitors from known Coronavirus hotspots.

International Air Transport Association (IATA) an industry group said Asia-Pacific airlines could lose 27 billion US dollars to disruptions from the Coronavirus.

Sri Lanka’s state-run SriLankan Airlines had already slashed flights to China.

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Ruchika Singh, Vice President – Sales at GoAir said online bookings for Colombo flights are “encouraging”.

GoAir flies to 27 domestic Indian destination and 9 international airports, including Bangkok, Phuket, Muscat, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Kuwait and Dhamman.

Delhi tickets are priced at 35,512 rupees, with an introductory 30 kilograms of baggage thrown in Chaminda Silva, General Manager, Royal Spence Aviation (Pvt) Ltd, general sales agents for GoAir in Colombo said. Meals are an add-on.

The model of GoAir, a low cost carrier is to offer 20kilograms of baggage with the price, he said though Colombo is getting an introductory fare.

Singh says GoAir has seat factors of around 80 to 85 percent on its network and expects Colombo flights to reach 80 percent, though it may be lower initially. (Colombo/Feb27/2020)

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