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Sri Lanka Urges Airlines to Fly Full Tank or Fill Elsewhere

  • Emirates, SriLankan among carriers forced to fill up overseas
  • Island nation going through shortage of all essential supplies
Bandaranaike International airport in Katunayake, Sri Lanka.
Bandaranaike International airport in Katunayake, Sri Lanka.Photographer: Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP/Getty Images

By Anusha Ondaatjie

Sri Lanka is recommending airlines carry enough jet fuel to last return trips or fill up elsewhere, as the island grapples with a shortage of everything from oil to food due to a foreign-exchange crisis. 

“We’ve asked airlines to carry the required fuel while operating to Sri Lanka, because there is a shortage of aviation fuel, and we have to manage the situation,” Rayhan Wanniappa, a director of Sri Lanka’s Civil Aviation Authority, said in a phone interview Monday. “Airlines are bringing certain additional supplies, while we are also providing from our stocks.”

How Sri Lanka Landed in a Crisis and What It Means: QuickTake

Airlines that fly to Sri Lanka, including Dubai’s Emirates Airline are tankering — carrying more fuel than required — while the island’s flag carrier is using the Southern Indian city of Chennai and Dubai to refuel for long-haul flights, people familiar with the matter said, declining to be identified as plans are confidential. There’s increased refueling at southern Indian airports by international flights to and from Colombo to offset the shortage, according to an official at Indian Oil Corp.

Sri Lanka has been plagued by a dearth of necessary items, power cuts and rampant inflation, leading to public protests calling for the ouster of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The country defaulted on its foreign debt for the first time this month, and has started bailout talks with the International Monetary Fund.

SriLankan has taken measures for minimum interruption to flight schedules, a spokesman for the airline said. The steps include fuel tankering and refueling aircraft through technical stops at foreign airports, he said. 

Singapore Airlines Ltd. is uplifting additional fuel on flights departing Singapore to Sri Lanka due to the shortage, a representative said in an email. Emirates didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Bankrupt Sri Lanka Takes Russia Oil as Fuel Crisis Persists

“There’s been no effect in airport and airline operations,” said G.A. Chandrasiri, chairman of the Airport and Aviation Services, that operates the main airport in Colombo. “This is just a preventive measure.”

The Indian ocean nation has been trying to come up with cash to pay for oil that’s been sitting on tankers off its coast as its fuel crunch persists. The country’s sole refinery is attempting to restart after three months of shutdown, with crude supplies from Russia which it hopes to refine into usable fuel. 

— With assistance by Debjit Chakraborty, and Asantha Sirimanne

Bloomberg

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