Sri Lanka

SriLankan Airlines flies high on tourism

SriLankan Airlines flies high on tourism

SriLankan Airlines is confident it will weather the country’s ongoing “economic turmoil” and will resume normal flight operations soon, a senior official said.

SriLankan Airlines chairman Ashok Pathirage said the airline has adopted an effective strategy to minimize the impact of the economic crisis and will resume normal operations once tourism activity picks up in the country.

“We have implemented a number of strategies to mitigate the impact of the economic crisis on the airline. In this regard, we have sought to reduce operating costs and redeploy our capacity to more profitable markets where possible,” Pathitage told Reuters in an exclusive interview. Khaleej Times.

Established in 1979, SriLankan Airlines is the largest airline in Sri Lanka by number of aircraft and destinations. The airline operates flights to over 100 destinations from its main hub at Bandaranaike International Airport near Colombo.

“We are constantly reviewing our internal processes and have introduced a number of productivity-enhancing initiatives. SriLankan Airlines has also successfully negotiated concessions with key suppliers on payment terms,” Pathirage said.

Fortunately, he said a large part of Sri Lanka’s revenue comes from international markets, although tourist bookings to Sri Lanka have fallen after the latest travel advisories were issued.

“Some of these travel warnings are now being lifted and in the longer term, we remain optimistic to start a new horizon once travel demand to Sri Lanka resumes,” he said.

Pathirage said that with the new government and key cabinet mix in place, a reasonable level of political stability can now be seen in the country.

“The current economic situation is mainly due to the severe shortage of foreign exchange in Sri Lanka. Therefore, the government is looking for new ways to introduce foreign exchange, and tourism is one of the main players, especially under the upcoming new national tourism policy, which is expected to be in play a key role in revitalizing the tourism industry,” he said.

The chairman said that SriLankan Airlines is also looking forward to a positive turnaround in summer inbound passenger traffic in 2022, with further growth as winter approaches.

“We hope that basic necessities and infrastructure can be restored to a large extent by winter as this will give passengers more confidence in their holidays in Sri Lanka,” he said.

SriLankan Airlines does not currently operate any domestic flights, Pathirage said.

“Our international network provides easy connectivity via direct and codeshare flights to major cities in the Middle East and Africa; Europe; Australia; the Indian subcontinent; Southeast Asia; the Far East; and North America. However, given current economic factors, we currently Our operating schedule is dynamic and sensitive to changes in the form of frequency reductions or route changes.”

Responding to a question about the outlook for airlines, he said things would return to normal in the summer.

“We expect passenger arrivals to Sri Lanka to normalize to some extent during this peak summer period, with a larger recovery in winter 2022. These forecasts depend on the continuation of political stability and overall efforts at economic recovery in the coming months ,”He said.

Pathirage said SriLankan has a resilient business model that will help the airline emerge from the current economic crisis. He said the airline’s revenue was impacted by the economic situation in Sri Lanka and rising fuel prices, a common problem for airlines globally.

“Despite these challenges, the Sri Lankan authorities have been very supportive and assured SriLankan Airlines of maintaining its hub, Bandaranaike International Airport, which is well-equipped to facilitate smooth transfers for passengers,” he said.

“As an airline with a large international network, we have some resources to address the local economic challenges we are currently facing. We believe that SriLankan Airlines will be able to offset the expected gradual recovery in tourism demand in Sri Lanka and the foreign currency revenue generated by the airline. part of the additional cost.

“I believe SriLankan Airlines and Sri Lanka will emerge from this situation more resilient and stronger in the future,” Pathirage said.

SriLankan Airlines chairman Ashok Pathirage said the government was looking for a strategic partner for the airline following the country’s economic crisis.

“The Sri Lankan government, the major shareholder of SriLankan Airlines, has announced its desire to sell a stake in the airline to a strategic partner. The process will be done in a transparent manner with the participation of all relevant stakeholders,” Pathirage said.

SriLankan Airlines, formerly known as AirLanka, was partially privatized in 1998 when the Emirates Group acquired a 43.63% stake and a 10-year management contract. The contract lapsed in 2008, leading to the divestment of the UAE.

Last month, newly appointed Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe pledged to privatize state-run SriLankan Airlines to pass the cost of restructuring the airline on to private investors rather than the state coffers.

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