SriLankan : Patching Leaks While Battling Turbulence

SriLankan : Patching Leaks While Battling Turbulence

SriLankan Airlines, the island nation’s flag carrier, is taking to the skies again with two leased aircraft from Air Belgium, seeking to plug holes in a depleted fleet and navigate treacherous economic waters

The airline, grappling with expiring leases and grounded planes due to an engine manufacturer’s defect, has received a wet-leased Airbus A330-200, offering a much-needed boost. This 22-business-class seater is already servicing key routes like Frankfurt, Dubai, and Dhaka, with another aircraft set to join the lineup by mid-January

But the recent Christmas flight cancellations, triggered by a Paris tyre burst and spare parts delays, are stark reminders of the turbulence Sri Lanka is facing. Added to this are grounded Airbus NEO planes due to a global directive and engine supply delays

Despite these challenges, the recent lease deal highlights Sri Lanka’s strategic efforts to stay afloat. Leasing offers temporary relief without the hefty upfront costs of buying new planes. By optimizing its fleet and prioritizing profitable routes, the airline aims to lessen its losses and stay competitive

However, long-term survival hinges on more than just patchwork solutions. Restructuring, debt reduction, and potentially privatization remain on the table. The Sri Lankan government, currently seeking an International Monetary Fund bailout, is likely to explore various options to revive the airline

Sri Lanka’s State Enterprises Restructuring Unit (SRU) has extended the deadline for interested parties to submit a Request for Qualification (RFQ) to take part in the partial privatisation of Sri Lankan Airlines. Submissions were due by December 5, 2023. However, the government agency has extended the deadline to January 9, 2024, after prospective bidders asked for more time

The carrier lost 163.58 billion rupees ($525 million) in the year to March 2022, i

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