SriLankan Airlines will operate flights to the newly opened Jaffna international airport soon, said Group Chief Executive Officer, SriLankan, Vipula Gunatilleka.
Speaking to ‘Daily News’ after the Sri Lanka Tourism WTM Press Conference here on Monday he said SriLankan plans to lease smaller aircraft for this operation. ‘’The airline will include Jaffna as a stopover destination when operating flights to some of the Indian destinations thus establishing good connectivity between Colombo (BIA) and Jaffna as well.’’
He said the opening of the Jaffna international airport was a step taken in the right direction. ‘’This will help boost economy and tourism in the area and as the national carrier we want to help this effort by operating flights.’’
‘’Our current fleet do not have the required equipment (aircraft) to operate to Jaffna and we will look at the option of acquiring a suitable aircraft to launch this operation next year.”
Our plan is to reach the breakeven point by 2023, said Gunatilleka. ‘’This would have been possible by 2022 but was forced to push it back by one year due to the Easter Sunday attacks as its impact was big to the airline.’’
One of the biggest overheads for the airline, the leases of aircraft, are now on the decline while we have also taken several prudent economic decisions to bring down costs. ‘’Due to relocating some of the SriLankan offices from WTC and other places to Katunayake we were able to save around USD 51 million in the first six months of this year.’’
He also said that there also some economic benefits of aviation fuel charges.
Gunatilleka added that the Australian route to Melbourne too was profitable and they will soon add Sydney to their network. He ruled out operating flights to New Zealand.
Similarly, the Indian destinations too would bring good revenue and the national carrier would be adding Ahmadabad to their network soon.
The airline was also planning to re-introduce Colombo-Frankfurt flights but was forced to change this decision due to the Easter Sunday attacks. ‘’We will now observe the traffic patterns from Frankfurt and re look at this sector for the 2020 winter season.’’
Commenting on the Engineering arm he said that it too is a success and they are also taking third party contracts which are bringing more revenue. “The Engineering arm recently welcomed a new airline customer – Air Seychelles – for which it carried out an ‘A-check’ on an Airbus A320 aircraft in its specialised A320/A321 hangar at BIA.
He also said that they will also look at more code share agreements.