Condor says it will operate one flight a week on the Frankfurt-Kochi sector. The flights will be “seasonal” and will also touch Bahrain for what I assume will be just a refuelling stop. While it’s good to hear that one more airline will start flying to Kerala from Europe, I’m not quite sure just how much of a boost this is going to give Kerala’s tourism industry.
To begin with, though Condor — owned by the Thomas Cook Group — describes itself as a “leisure airline” or a “tourism airline”, it is essentially an airline that operates charter flights. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that. What worries me is that the charter flights to Kochi are going to be only for the ‘tourism season’. As the airline itself says, the flights to Kochi are for the “winter season 2010/11”. I would have been much more excited if Condor had decided to operate flights to Kochi through the year. Of course, that’s still a possibility, but I’m not very optimistic about that happening.
Second, I’m not too sure if the Condor flight is going to add significantly to foreign tourist arrivals in Kerala. The airline intends to operate just one flight a week to Kochi. From what I can gather, the flights will start in the first week of November and end by April 1, 2011; that’s about 22 flights across five months. I understand that the airline will operate Boeing 757-300 aircraft on the Frankfurt-Kochi sector. Each of Condor’s 757-300s can seat 265 passengers. So I would imagine that we are talking about the airline carrying around 5,803 passengers from Frankfurt to Kochi over 5 months. That’s less than 1 per cent of the 598,925 foreign tourist arrivals in Kerala in 2008 (the last year for which Kerala tourism stats are available).
All this makes me wonder just how the Condor flight is going to “increase manifold” the tourism prospects of Kerala. The way I see it, at best, the Condor airlines flight to Kerala may be a pilot venture; an exploration of sorts. Whether it will yield significant dividends in the years ahead is, however, anybody’s guess.