Mr. Gunewardene speaking at an Airline event
by Abdul H. Azeez
Sri Lankan airlines is losing out on a surge of summer traffic that is clogging up the airways. There are a lot of people leaving the country after the summer and as an industry insider tells the Sunday Leader, a lot of ex-pats are seeking to return to the country from locations like Zurich.
As The Sunday Leader reported earlier, flights to Amsterdam, Zurich and Australia have not been opened. Proposed expansion in areas like London and Paris have not materialized. The CEO of Sri Lankan Mr. Manoj Vaas Gunewardene said that operational problems have meant that ‘it is too late for us to focus on the summer traffic. All our efforts right now are geared towards expanding capacity for winter.’
Mr. Gunewardene says that the airline is in the process of recruiting around 40 pilots to cope with the winter traffic. There are also planned additions to the fleet with the airline already acquiring a new A330 with a seating capacity of almost 300.
The Leader Learns that the controversial 767 airplane that was wet leased by Sri Lankan for an exorbitant rate has been discontinued after two months of operation after customer complaints. The airplane was said to be very basic with minimum comfort and entertainment capabilities. Insiders criticized it as being extremely detrimental to the image of the Airline.
Sri Lankan has come under fire lately for not being able to show profits despite the boom in business. The management is blamed for not taking advantage of marketing opportunities. Advertising is lackluster and promotions are uncompetitive. The loss of summer traffic will surely be a blow to next year’s P&L.
Sri Lankan is practically public property and as the national carrier, it is accountable to the citizens of this country. It remains to be seen when the management will become more proactive and dynamic and perhaps take the airline back its glory pre-Emirates days.