Sri Lankan Airlines aims for hub position

Nov 19, 2008 (LBO) – Sri Lankan Airlines plans to renew its fleet and expand its passenger and cargo network to position itself as a hub and gateway to the huge market on the Indian sub-continent, its chief executive says. Starting next month, the airline plans to begin replacing its aging A320 Airbus aircraft that operate to destinations in India and the Maldives with new leased aircraft.

Two aircraft leases had already been signed and the airline hopes to replace the other two by March 2009.

“We plan to synchronise fleet renewals because our wide-body aircraft renewal is due in 2013-14,” Gunawardena said. “So we now want to lease narrow-body aircraft till then.”

The airline’s business turnaround plan aims to offer competitive access and better cost structures to south Asian markets.

“In the next five years or so we would also seek opportunities to grow the network,” said Gunawardena.

In the long term, the airline would look at over 50 destinations as its own services or as partners.

“Until recently, we were witnessing a tremendous explosion of growth in the number of air travellers particularly helped by growth in India and China,” Gunawardena said.

“We know what this will do to ex