Tuesday, June 25, 2024

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SriLankan Airlines Ground Handling is a disaster?

  • Not enough passenger coaches
  • Economy class coaches are overloaded with passengers
  • massive delays for passengers
  • Highest ground handling charges for airlines

Colombo (LNW): Sri Lankan airlines has been operating the ground handling at the BIA Airport from the inception. However the current status is at a crisis.

The coaches used for economy class passengers to be transported from aircraft to terminal is overloaded, compared to all other airports (note: majority of tourists are economy class passengers )the ground handling equipment such as APU’s (auxiliary power unit), all the ground handling vehicles in air side are obsolete.

Sri Lankan airlines ground handling agent (GHA) which handle the check in counters has Multiple issues. We have 51 check in counters in the airport. At peak times there is a huge lack of check in staff for the counters which create a massive queue in the airport resulting in delays for passengers / tourist.

The lack of trained staff on the SITA system which is a reservation system . This is a massive issue for the total operation of the airport. It is evident that the little staff that they have are inexperienced.

The final result of this “mishandling of the handling”, major international airlines such as Emirates , singapore & Qatar and others undergo delays from their schedules ,from 30 mins to up to 2 hours. Due to this issue airlines have an OTP ( on time performance ) which is affected drastically . This gives disrepute to Sri Lanka amongst the airline community . These delays are calculated to be over 20% of all departures ! This number is not acceptable . It is also stated that some passengers who have connecting flights ,miss their flights due to the delay in Sri Lanka . Many complaints have been already made by international passengers and airlines, proof can be provided if needed . This is one reason we are struggling to be known as a hub and a destination .

It is also prudent to note that Sri Lankan ground handling rates for airlines are the highest in the region . For an example an A320 aircraft is been charged usd 2200 plus for a turnaround flight whereas countries such as india is charging USD 800 per turnaround, singapore is around USD 1200 even Maldives is usd 1600 .Due to the above reasons the main airlines are not increasing their current schedules to the country, which will obviously affect our tourism targets.

We as a country have to work hard to earn the much needed dollars that we certainly lack . It is no secret that Sri Lankan airlines is in financial trouble. We as a country have always put the airline first, when we should be prioritizing tourism.

The airline can hardly sustain themselves never mind the ground handling. It is time to privatize or find some other solution that is realistic.

It is sad to note that the first impressions of Sri Lanka are the above issues and the issues of immigration . Still there are no business class or first class counters by the immigration and looks like there never will be.

We live in a country where they are still not able to start a tourism campaign for the season. Much more need not be said about state of affairs.

Nobody seems to be taking any action and we go aimlessly very much like the the Titanic.

The burning question is how can we achieve more tourism? The answer is increase the number of air seat capacity to the country . Currently we have 70 arrivals per day average .That’s about 12000 seat capacity per day arriving .This means we have a total seat capacity of roughly 4,000,000 seats per year . At present 3,000,000 of these seats are local passengers .This will be for all travelers not only tourists . Hence it is obvious that it is difficult to achieve the numbers that the industry is expecting . If our costs are higher than another route and our efficiently is poor why would an airline risk increasing their flights .

We are hopeful that someone will attend to these matters.

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