Sri Lanka, India ferry not seen hitting airlines

Feb 23, 2011 (LBO) – The resumption of ferry links between India and Sri Lanka after a war is not likely to affect air lines, especially budget carriers, at least initially, officials and analysts said. The ferry services are likely to cater to a different market than airlines unless or until voyages quicker than the proposed 10-12 hours or fares much cheaper than air fares are available, they said.

Ferry operations between Colombo harbour and Tuticorin in India are set to start next week, said ports ministry additional secretary Anura Jayawickrema, who visited the south Indian port recently to check on arrangements there.

The first ferry, a vessel with a capacity of 500 passengers run by a private Indian operator, is scheduled to sail from India on February 28.

“The Indians are quite ready for the passenger service,” Jayawickrema said. “They have converted a big warehouse into a passenger terminal and installed most of the equipment like passenger seating, baggage scanning and immigration counters.”

The initial frequency will be two voyages a week which will later increase to three.

On the Sri Lankan side, Colombo port is refurbishing its passenger terminal building, Jayawickrem