SriLankan Airlines has launched a re-fleeting programme, and taken delivery of the first of several new Airbus A320 aircraft this week – the first aircraft 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 aircraft in the next financial year.
Manoj Gunawardena, SriLankan’s CEO, said, “The arrival of this aircraft is a significant milestone in the history of SriLankan Airlines. It signals the launch of our re-fleeting programme, which is an integral part of our 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 A320’s. 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 30 November, the airline re-launched services to Rome, to 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 SriLankan has received 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 2 years old.