Jet Airways will launch non-stop services on Bengaluru – Colombo sector in the wee hours of 5th January 2017. The daily service will be operated by B737-800 aircraft with 12 seats in Business and 156 in Economy. The airline which recently announced Bengaluru as one of its focus city and domestic hub after Mumbai and Delhi, had started services on Bengaluru – Singapore sector effective 14th December 2016.
While the airline has been operating to Singapore from Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai, it operates to Colombo only from Mumbai. With the red-eye flights from Bengaluru, the airline could offer convenient connections to Delhi, Hyderabad & Chennai – the largest market between India and Sri Lanka.
Jet Airways, part of the Etihad Partners, had focused on Bengaluru during its initial expansion with wide-body aircraft. However the services between Bengaluru and Brussels, its European hub from 2007 to March 2016, were terminated in January 2009 after operating for less than 4 months.
Indian carriers have been cautious with International expansion at Bengaluru, which recorded 5th highest International passengers, behind Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kochi in 2015-16 as per data released by Airports Authority of India. Jet Airways has maximum international presence at Bengaluru with flights to Abu Dhabi, Singapore and now Colombo. Air India connects Bengaluru to Male and IndiGo flight to Dubai are the only other international flights by Indian carriers.
As per the press release of the airline, in 2015, air passenger traffic between India and Sri Lanka was close to one million and from Sri Lanka to India more than 963,000. Jet Airways flight 9W 278 will depart Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport at 0040 hrs and arrive in Colombo at 0210 hrs (Local Time). The flight 9W 277 will leave Colombo at 0310 hrs (LT) to arrive in Bengaluru at 0435 hrs (LT). Kingfisher Airlines has operated daily flights between Colombo and Bengaluru which connected to its London departure.
Both the Jet Airways flights – to Singapore and Colombo will not be affected by the airport closure at Bengaluru Airport which would be for six hours thirty minutes every day from 19th February to 30th April 2017.
One wonders if Indian carriers have been ignoring potential of routes to Colombo, since Sri Lankan is allowed to operate 88 weekly flights to India as per the schedule put up by the regulator on its website. Indian carriers would operate 49 frequencies amongst them after the launch of services by Jet Airways on the Bengaluru – Colombo sector. Trichy, Trivandrum, Kochi are the cities which have services from SriLankan but none from Indian carriers. SriLankan also operates seasonal flights to Varanasi and Gaya.
The first flight was operated by VT-JBL, but the airline has quickly reduced frequency to 4x weekly, operating on Mon, Tue, Thu and Sat until end of March.