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Monday, 19 March 2012

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SriLankan on break even path

SriLankan Airlines can financially break even by 2014 predicted, Chief Operating Officer, SriLankan Airlines, T. Jayaseelan. A stalwart in the aviation sector with over 20 years experience in the trade , Jayaseelan said that the airline is on a five year recovery plan and should look at making profits by 2015.

He said that for the last three years no major reinvestment was done by the previous management which made the present airline management’s overheads rise. Jayaseelan said that due to this they had to make heavy investments to keep the airline afloat. The fleet of aircraft too were old and the present management was compelled to get new aircraft. Today this had been successfully carried out and the average age of SriLankan aircraft are 10 years.


Chief Operating Officer, SriLankan Airlines, T Jayaseelan,
Chairman SriLankan, Nishantha Wickramasinghe at a business
meeting at the recently concluded ITB in Berlin.
Picture by Shirajiv Sirimane

This is an ongoing exercise and SriLankan’s aim is to further reduce the aircraft fleet age to five years in five years time. The national carrier today accounts to 12 wide bodied aircraft and seven A320’s. He said that the practice of purchasing new planes was discontinued because such a move was disadvantages when going for new versions. Due to this all SriLankan aircraft have been obtained on lease giving the airline the option to change the aircraft at any time.

He also said globally the airline industry is facing a crisis mainly due to the escalating oil prices and also the economic crunch in Europe which had limited air travel.

Commenting on their future plans he said that they are focusing on frequency increase rather than adding more destinations. The airline is aiming to be a strong player in the current destinations that it operates. ‘Our aim is to have a minimum daily frequency to all destinations and would also look at more code sharing agreements,’ he disclosed.

Sister airline Mihin may look at some new destinations in India and would consider adding Manila to their network.

‘Currently the Indonesia and Decca operations are very successful and the airline is looking at a third aircraft,’ he said. He ruled out the possibility of flying to both Singapore and Bangkok in the near future. Asked to comment on Sri Lanka’s second international airport built at Mattala he said that SriLankan would have a major role to play there. A connection between Colombo to Mattala and back and a stop over in either Colombo or Mattala is very much on the cards. Tourists would definitely have the opportunity to start their tour from Colombo and get back to their final destination from Mattala. (or vise versa).

He said that they are keen in engineering, (MRO) training. 'We would definitely look at an international partnership mainly to cut down on investments and then also to help bring in foreign exchange to the country. He said that budget airlines are not a threat to the airline since they cater to a different segment. 'Some times budget airlines help to create and stimulate new markets,’ he said.

SriLankan airlines is also expected to receive a major financial injection when it obtains a Rs.20 billion loan from a bank in the United Arab Emirate to settle its outstanding bills.

shirajiv@yahoo.com
 

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