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SriLankan’ accords top priority to fleet expansion amidst flight delays

By: Staff Writer

February 29, Colombo (LNW): Hard on the heels of six flight delays due to failure of mouse trap inside planes, Minister of Ports, Shipping and Aviation Nimal Siripala de Silva has announced that an investor for SriLankan Airlines will be chosen following a live auction for the divestiture of SriLankan Airlines on 05 March.

He revealed that bids have been called, explaining that the live bidding will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 02:00 p.m. on 05 March, following which the bids will be evaluated, and sent to the Cabinet.

Any investor who can invest at least US$ 500 million and ensure job security for the 6,000 people who are working in the airline could submit bids to acquire the Airline, he added.

The minister faulted the “poor administration” of the management adding that it was the duty of the ground handling administrators to ensure the counters were adequately manned by staffers.

He blamed the trade unions as well as the management adding that neither had any interest in keeping this airline afloat. He also expressed concern that these irregularities are a discouraging factor for potential bidders due to ongoing disruptions and workforce attitudes.

He added that the airline can no longer be maintained by the government and a private investor is compulsory.  He criticized trade unions for disseminating misinformation and failing to deliver on promises made during a recent seminar.

Divulging different plan to government’s divestiture of the SriLankan Airlines Chairman Ashok Pathirage announced yesterday that fleet expansion of the national carrier remains an immediate focus.

Speaking to the media, he disclosed that the airline has contracted for three A320s, one of which is already received. Additionally, the airline has received offers for six A330s and hopes of finalising these acquisitions by the end of the year.

“The Government procurement processes are time-consuming and the global demand for aircraft is escalating. This has been a significant factor contributing to delays in securing additional aircraft,” Pathirage explained.

With the current fleet consisting of 17 aircraft, of three which are grounded, he underscored the importance of adding wide-body aircraft to the fleet to overcome limitations in servicing long-haul destinations such as the UK, France, and Australia.

“The absence of A330s aircraft poses challenges and acquiring them is essential to address these constraints,” he added.

Pathirage also highlighted the reluctance of lessors to take on the risk associated with Sri Lanka’s sovereign rating, posing an additional challenge in the acquisition process.

Despite these challenges, the Chairman expressed optimism about the airline’s financial outlook, noting the airline’s ability to break even this year with expectations of improved turnover.

“We are anticipating a better performance this year, to reach breakeven,” Pathirage added.

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