Contrary to reports in the press, the management of SriLankan Airlines pointed out today that since the unity Government was formed, the airline’s losses have been dramatically reduced. The airline says that Rs. 91.8 billion in losses suffered between 2011 and 2015 had reduced to a fraction of this colossal number by 2017.
A statement by the airline said that a fuel price reduction of 2015 saw a drop in ticket prices that did not recover when fuel increased again.
The effect of this, coupled with the acceptance of several new (and expensive) aircraft, a depreciation of the Rupee and other currencies against the USD (the majority of airline costs are in USD) saw a weakening of the balance sheet.
The runway re-surfacing project at Colombo Airport, which was absolutely necessary, also forced the national carrier to cancel over 600 flights, equivalent to two entire weeks of scheduled services, in the first three months of 2017. These factors combined to worsen the performance of what could have been a successful financial year in 2016/17.
The airline says it continues to pay a heavy price for the extremely high lease rental agreements entered into by the previous government. The cost of terminating the leases on four A350-900 aircraft that were grossly overpriced and completely unsuitable for the national carrier, imposed a further burden on the airline. (One-off items in table above).
The airline is now undergoing a modest recovery in revenues and is about to launch significant regional expansion. Three new destinations in India, direct flights to Hong Kong and Guangzhou and a long awaited non-stop service to Australia are all planned in the coming months.
Further restructuring is required in order to reduce the cost base and make the company competitive in this extremely challenging market.
The Directors and management team are confident that with the support of the shareholder, the recovery of the national airline will continue and the positive trend will be further improved upon. (Colombo Gazette)