SriLankan Airlines targets Melbourne-Mumbai market with quick connections and low fares

SriLankan Airlines is adding a second daily flight to Mumbai, enabling it to offer quick connections in the Mumbai-Melbourne market.

SriLankan is launching daily services to Melbourne on 29-Oct-2017 and has been heavily promoting connections from Melbourne to India since it began ticket sales in Victoria in late May-2017. However, as Blue Swan previously analysed, initially SriLankan was only offering quick connections from Melbourne to three of its Indian destinations – Bangalore, Chennai and Delhi.

See related report: SriLankan Airlines promotes Melbourne-India connections despite long layovers on most city pairs

SriLankan recently announced the introduction of a second daily flight to Mumbai from 29-Oct-2017. It is no coincidence this is the same day Colombo-Melbourne is launched as the new Mumbai-Colombo fight is timed perfectly for Colombo-Melbourne.

The new Mumbai-Colombo flight lands in Colombo at 22:50, or just one hour before the 23:50 departure from Colombo to Melbourne. Without this flight, Mumbai-Melbourne passengers only had the option of the existing overnight flight from Mumbai to Colombo, which lands in Colombo at 5:35, resulting in a layover of more than 18 hours. For the first four months of Melbourne sales, this was the connection from Mumbai to Melbourne that SriLankan was trying to sell.

SriLankan’s existing Colombo-Mumbai flight connects well with Melbourne-Colombo, providing a layover of 1hr25min in the outbound direction. However, offering a decent connection in just one direction is not good enough for most passengers.

Fast connections to Mumbai in both directions is critical for the potential viability of the Melbourne-Colombo route. While local Australia-SriLanka traffic is growing the market is not nearly large enough to support a daily service. Therefore, SriLankan is relying heavily on transit traffic beyond Colombo.

The one-stop Australia-India market is its main target but without a competitive Melbourne-Mumbai product SriLankan would have struggled to attract the volume of Australia-India traffic it is targeting. SriLankan serves 14 destinations in India and is still not offering quick connections from Melbourne to several secondary destinations. However, by offering quick connections to Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai it now has an attractive product in the four main Melbourne-India markets which combined account for over 70% of total Melbourne-Australia bookings.

Mumbai is the second largest Indian destination from Melbourne after Delhi. SriLankan has been offering in the Melbourne-Delhi market a quick connection in both directions since launching sales in Melbourne but Air India has a competitive advantage in this market because it offers a non-stop product. There are no non-stop options from Melbourne to Mumbai or any other cities in India.

Air India competes in the Melbourne-Mumbai market but only accounts for approximately 5% share of Melbourne-Mumbai bookings, according to OAG Traffic Analyser data for the first seven months of 2017. Singapore Airlines (SIA) is the market leader between Melbourne and Mumbai, accounting for a 36% share of bookings. Malaysia Airlines is the second largest player with a 19% share, followed by Qantas with 12% and Thai Airways with 9% and Cathay Pacific with 8%. All these airlines offer relatively quick connections; Qantas does not serve Mumbai but relies on a codeshare with Jet Airways via Singapore.

SriLankan is offering Melbourne-Mumbai fares starting at less than AUD600 including taxes. SriLankan now generally has the lowest price in this market. This is an extremely attractive proposition as SriLankan also offers among the fastest transit times and provides a full-service product and oneworld loyalty points.

Thanks to the new second Mumbai-Melbourne frequency, SriLankan now offers the fastest transit time among all competitors from Mumbai to Melbourne at 13hr25min. From Melbourne to Mumbai it also offers the quickest total transit time at 14hr45min.

 

Airline

Melbourne-Mumbai

total transit time

Mumbai-Melbourne

total transit time

SriLankan Airlines

14hr45min 13hr25min

Singapore Airlines

15hr0min 13hr50min

Thai Airways

15hr40min 16hr30min

Qantas Airways

15hr55min 14hr40min
Malaysia Airlines 16hr45min

15hr20min

Air India 17hr0min

16hr30min

AirAsia X 17hr10min

16hr30min

Cathay Pacific 20hr45min

15hr45min

Note: Air India flights only available three days per week; Malaysia Airlines and Thai Airways fast connections from Melbourne to Mumbai not available every day
Source: Skyscanner for travel in Nov-2017

SIA, Thai, Qantas, Malaysia Airlines, Air India and Cathay Pacific all offer Melbourne-Mumbai return fares that start at AUD800 to AUD900 including taxes. The only LCC option is AirAsia X, who’s lowest fare is slightly higher than SriLankan but lower than the other full-service competitors.

SriLankan also now has the lowest business class fares in the Melbourne-Mumbai market with all in return fares starting at less than AUD3000. AirAsia X’s business class fares are slightly higher while most of the full-service competitor fares are at least 50% higher.

AirAsia X offers a lie flat seat on both sectors while SriLankan has a lie flat seat on Melbourne-Colombo (operated with A330s) but a regular recliner style seat on Colombo-Mumbai (operated by A320 family aircraft). However, SriLankan has an advantage over AirAsia X because it offers a full business class service including lounge access. SriLankan is certainly a good value option for Melbourne-based corporates doing business in Mumbai.