Pathfinder Foundation and Carnegie India organized a conference on connectivity. I was asked to speak on air connectivity, which I was happy to do, it being a rather neglected subject. The paper is still not ready for prime time, some of the data not having yet been provided by the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka. But here is the conclusion:
There may be marginal possibilities for increasing passenger and freight movements between India and Sri Lanka through reforms in air travel and visa policies which could possibly be included in the proposed Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement (ETCA). The construction of additional international airports, such as those in Jaffna and Trincomalee, where significant Sri Lankan Tamil populations live may also contribute. The inclusion of Sri Lankan firms in GPNs that also include Indian entities and major new industrial zones that attract significant Indian investments could also contribute.
There is little doubt that the tourist industries in both countries have room to grow. It is possible that there has not been enough time for the liberalized Indian visa procedures to have effect, especially in the absence of major marketing campaigns in either country.
Significant increases in air passenger and air freight services between the two countries are likely to be realized only if the frame of analysis is broadened beyond India and Sri Lanka to the larger Bay of Bengal region.