Sri Lankan Airlines halves flights to India, trims costs

Mar 23, 2009 (LBO) – State-run national carrier, Sri Lankan Airlines, has slashed flights to India from 100 a week to 51, as part of a cost-cutting strategy and re-aligning of services to conserve cash and maximize yields, an official said. In the first quarter of the current financial year starting March 2008, the airline lost almost 50 million US dollars, on core airline operations, chief executive Manoj Gunewardena said.

“But progressively in the next two to three quarters we’ve managed to stem this loss significantly,” he said in an interview Saturday.

“In the two months of December and January we have managed to break even on operations.”

With the financial year almost over, Gunewardena says the airline would end “on a minus”, though cash flows have stabilized.

SriLankan’s bottom line is usually propped up by profits from ground handling and a flight catering unit at Bandaranaike International Airport, its home base.

In 2007/2008, the carrier lost 6.1 billion rupees on core airline operations but ended the year with a 4.8 billion rupee profit, with aircraft sales bringing capital gains to supplement 3.3 billion rupees earned from ground handling and 985 million rupees from catering.

In March 2