Colombo, July 7 (PTI) Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia has said that from July 16, the flight frequency between Chennai and Jaffna, Sri Lanka will be reduced from every Thursday to Classes have been increased to one per day, a move that will also expand trade and commerce.
Scindia made the announcement via a pre-recorded video message on the second day of the 67th Annual General Meeting of the Association of Travel Agents of India (TAAI) in Colombo.
More than 500 travel, aviation and tourism experts and travel agencies gathered in Colombo for the India Tourism Congress.
He said the congress in the island nation highlighted the age-old cultural ties between India and Sri Lanka.
“I believe that our partnership with Sri Lanka presents us with a unique opportunity to implement several reforms to address the short-term challenges of the industry” and become a significant and influential player in the global aviation ecosystem, said Sindia. strength.
“The first air services agreement between the two countries was signed in 1968, allowing Air India to operate aircraft from any point in India to any point in Sri Lanka, thereby enhancing connectivity to the global south,” he said.
The minister added that there are currently 16 flights flying to Colombo from different parts of India.
Scindia said: “Today, from this platform, I am pleased to announce that, based on the growing demand and potential of this route, in order to expand trade and commerce, we will be increasing our frequency from four times a week to Every day.” Said.
“Freight is also going well and we are operating direct flights from Chennai to Jaffna with the assistance of the governments of both countries,” he added.
In December 2022, India and Sri Lanka resumed flight services between Chennai and Jaffna, three years after the island nation had disrupted services due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Parali Airport was named Jaffna International Airport in October 2019, becoming Sri Lanka’s third international airport and opening its first flight from Chennai.
Tourism is a major foreign exchange earner for cash-strapped Sri Lanka. However, the outbreak of the epidemic in 2020 has severely weakened the tourism industry and is one of the main reasons why Sri Lanka’s economy is in trouble.
Sindia claimed that the discussions would help identify key milestones that need to be achieved by the aviation industry in both countries over the next decade, and urged all stakeholders to come together to take the industry to “new heights of success and growth”.
Top industry experts from airlines, associations and hotel and tour operators participated in various panel discussions on the second day of the event, followed by a business-to-business session.
Stressing that Buddhism remains “one of the strongest pillars linking two countries and civilizations,” Sindia said that in recent years, the bilateral relationship has been characterized by increased cooperation in areas such as trade and investment as well as development, education, culture, and tourism. increase. and aviation, and issues of wider international interest.
“Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi, after being sworn in for the second time, made his first foreign visit as a Prime Minister to Sri Lanka. Also, he was also the first foreign leader to visit Sri Lanka after the very unfortunate Easter bombings Sindia said, referring to the 2019 Easter bombings in Sri Lanka that killed 270 people, including 11 Indians.
“Thus, India and Sri Lanka have built a legacy of intellectual, cultural, religious and linguistic ties. We have stood together in times of happiness, but more importantly in times of crisis,” Sindia said, adding that he was delighted Learned that the convention was exploring new, futuristic avenues for travel to “transcend borders and change lives.”
In his speech, Sindia stated that “the Indian aviation industry was on the runway before 2014 and in the past 9 years it has finally taken off” and asserted that “a stable and competitive aviation industry is in the making “.
Given that the Indian civil aviation industry is undergoing an unprecedented transformation, now is “a good time to inject fresh thinking into the industry,” he added.
“Over the past nine years, India has both progressed and expanded, with the number of airports doubling from 74 in 2014 to 148 today, with an average of Daily international flights increased by almost 4% from 1,002 to 1,042,” said Sindia.
“Similarly, the number of international passengers increased by 5.3 per cent over the same period, with around 180,000 passengers taking international flights from India every day,” he noted.
“As we grow, we’re also transitioning to better service, better infrastructure, stronger last-mile connectivity and more cross-border tourism,” said Sindia.
“We have begun to make our mark on the next inflection point of the industry through three key enablers,” said Sindia, referring to the operation of a large number of airlines, the use of helicopters for last-mile connectivity and the adoption of new technologies. . Drone technology is being used in India to deliver medicines and pesticides, he added.
“We have launched a Helicopter Accelerator group to address helicopter issues and enabled Helisewa, an online portal used by all operators to obtain landing permits for helipads. In addition, Helidisha, which is A helicopter operation guidance material for the national administration, which is being distributed in more than 700 districts,” the minister said.
He also said that the facial recognition technology, called Digiyatra, is currently in use at seven airports in India and “we plan to roll it out to seven more airports in the coming months”.
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