SriLankan Airlines unveiled expansion plans, including the induction of seven more aircraft in 2011, launching a floatplane domestic service, adding new destinations, luxurious flat-bed seating in Business Class, and diversifying into several related areas of activity.
These plans were announced at the Airline’s 31st anniversary celebrations held recently in Katunayake attended by the two Deputy Ministers for Ports and Aviation, Dayashritha Tissera and Rohitha Abeygunawardena, and Member of Parliament Namal Rajapaksa.
The plans include the acquisition of five Airbus A320s and two Twin Otters. Three of the A320s will be the first brand new aircraft acquired by the airline since the year 2000, and will be fitted with the latest Audio-Video On Demand (AVOD) entertainment systems. The airline will also re-launch its SriLankan Air Taxi domestic service this winter, with plans to fly to more than a dozen destinations islandwide including the city of Colombo.
Plans are also being finalized to launch services in 2011 to several cities including Guangzhou in China and expanding the global network to over 50 destinations. The airline’s existing long-haul fleet of A330 and A340 aircraft will be fitted with flat-beds, providing absolute luxury for Business Class passengers on all flights to Europe and other long-haul routes.
“SriLankan Airlines intends to be a catalyst in the country’s economic expansion by supporting the efforts of the Government of Sri Lanka to transform the island into an economic hub. Our plans will spur growth in all types of export and import industries, with particular emphasis on tourism. We believe this is the right time for the national carrier to expand products and services. Our country is at peace, tourists are flocking to our shores in record numbers, and the economy is growing,” said SriLankan Chairman, Nishantha Wickremasinghe.
The Airline’s subsidiary SriLankan Catering (Pvt) Ltd. took over the management of the 24-roomed transit hotel at BIA last month. SriLankan Catering also recently launched a new laundry service targeted at airlines using BIA, hotels in the Negombo region, and factories in the area’s industrial zones.
The government recently underlined the leading role expected from the national carrier by purchasing the shareholding held by Emirates, and increasing the Treasury’s stake to 94.68 percent. The remaining 5.32 percent shareholding is held by employees of the airline.
Wickremasinghe said “SriLankan continued to support the nation’s travel and freight requirements even during the worst of times, when the global economy was in recession over the last two years. During this time, we acquired four aircraft, launched services to Shanghai and Milan, and significantly expanded our freight handling operations at BIA. But all this pales into insignificance in comparison to what we have planned for 2011.”
SriLankan Engineering is also likely to secure its largest ever contract for aircraft maintenance from a regional airline for the year 2011, and is likely to see further investment to enhance its facilities at BIA.
The airline has already signed an MoU with SIM Industries BV of the Netherlands to set up a full flight simulator centre at BIA, which it will market to other airlines in the region for training purposes.