SriLankan Airlines Leases New Airbus Planes

SriLankan Airlines has just taken delivery of the first of several new Airbus A320 aircraft, the first to join the national carrier in more than four years.

A second aircraft is scheduled to arrive this month, with a third and fourth likely to be obtained in the first quarter of 2009. The airline intends to acquire a fifth in its next financial year.

Manoj Gunawardena, SriLankan's CEO, said that the arrival of the aircraft is a significant milestone in the history of SriLankan Airlines since it signals the launch of their re-fleeting program. This is an integral part of their strategy to turn the airline around and bring it back to profitability. The re-fleeting is projected to bring about significant cost savings to the airline in both fuel and maintenance, and also enhance flight punctuality.

The new aircraft will replace the airline's existing fleet of A320s. The National Carrier last acquired an aircraft in July of 2004.

SriLankan's new management team is implementing a comprehensive strategy to reduce costs and take full advantage of new and existing business opportunities. On November 30, 2008 it re-launched services to Rome, which it will operate three times a week. SriLankan also launched direct flights between London and Male last month.

SriLankan currently has a fleet of 14 aircraft – five A320's, four A330's, and five A340's. Its oldest A320 is to be decommissioned this month, and a second by the end of the year.

The airline uses its A320's to serve its 11 destinations in India, as well as Male and Karachi, and some cities in the Middle East. Its long-haul A330 and A340 aircraft serve Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and the Far East.

The new aircraft, which arrived at Bandaranaike International Airport on November 30, is presently being fitted out with the airline's logo and livery at the airline's engineering complex in Katunayake. It will carry 152 passengers in a two class layout of 20 business class seats and 132 economy class seats. The aircraft has been leased from AWAS of Ireland for a period of three years, and is approximately two years old.