ECONOMYNEXT – State-run SriLankan Airlines plans to find a joint venture partner by end 2018 and will resume flight to Europe, Tourism Minister John Amaratunga said.
"Unfortunately, the national carrier has stopped flights to Europe," Tourism Development Minister John Amaratunga said at a forum organized by the University of Colombo.
"Before end of the year, the cabinet is determined to go ahead with a joint venture with a world leading airline and get back to European destinations."
He said SriLankan flights have no seats, especially when operating from China.
Amaratunga said that the cabinet wants to further increase the fleet of the airline.
It is also not clear why the airline would want to fly to Europe when there is excess demand in Asia.
SriLankan Airlines had scrapped all routes to Europe except London, in a bid to cut losses and make it easier to find a partner.
It is not clear whether any new partner will choose to fly to Europe, which is competitive, and increase the fleet on the orders of the Cabinet.
The government is likely to take off some of the debt of the airline prior to a sale.
The airline had lost 163 billion rupees from 2009 to 2016, after Emirates exited as managing shareholder, after ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa took personal offense at a Emirates management decision.
Under Emirates SriLankan Airlines operated with no help from tax payers.
An ongoing Presidential Commission is revealing gross mismanagement at the airline from 2006 to 2018.
SriLankan now has 13, A330 long haul aircraft and 14 A320/321 medium haul aircraft.
The airline cancelled a lease of four A350 long haul aircraft while incurring a penalty fee of 115 million dollars.
Mano Tittawella, consultant to the finance ministry said SriLankan had hired negotiators to convert the remaining order of four Airbus A350 aircraft into equipment more useful for its strategy. (Colombo/Oct/05/2018)