Srilankan Airlines to expand fleet to 28 aircraft

Aug 20, Colombo: The tourism boom in the country has made the national carrier SriLankan Airlines, to expand its fleet from 19 aircrafts to 28 aircraft in the next four years

The Airline is currently evaluating options to acquire six Boeing 777 long haul jets, Lanka Business Online said quoting an official of the airline.

In April SriLankan Airlines had announced that it would acquire seven new aircraft within this year. A newly acquired Airbus A320 aircraft arrived in the country in May this year.

Two more A320s that have been ordered on operating leases will be delivered this year, according to an airline official.

The current SriLankan fleet is 19 aircrafts including six Airbus A320s, five A330s, six A340s, and two De Havilland Twin Otters. Two older planes will be taken out with the new arrivals, the official has said.

SriLankan Chairman Nishantha Wickremasinghe has said that the airline is now evaluating quotes for the new acquisitions from both Boeing and Airbus and would take a decision within the next two months.

However, purchasing from Boeing will require retraining the pilots, crew and technicians for the aircraft as the SriLankan staff is trained for the Airbus planes.

The Sri Lankan cabinet last month approved US$ 500 million as equity over five years on an annual basis commencing from 2012 to improve the operations of its national airlines.

The state has committed 500 million dollars in taxpayer money to fix the airline over the next five years for the airline which has posted a string of losses. The government will also give sovereign guarantees for the airline to borrow.

The measure will allow the airlines to acquire new aircrafts, in order to cope up with the increasing tourist growth.

Wickremasinghe also said that the airline would resume direct flights to Zurich by the end of the year with three flights a week initially and increase the frequency to five later.

The Chairman also said that they would increase frequency to Europe and also to Japan. The Asian destinations too would have additional flights by the end of the year, he said.

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