SriLankan Airlines to swap Airbus A350s for smaller planes

ECONOMYNEXT – State-run SriLankan Airlines is on track to renegotiate an order for four Airbus A350 long haul aircraft for other aircraft more suited to its route network at no additional cash cost for Sri Lanka, a top official said.

"The balance A350 aircraft are being renegotiated with Airbus so that they will be converted at competitive prices, to aircraft that Sri Lanka needs in the next 10 years," advisor to the finance ministry Mano Tittawella said.

"So this can be done without any financial burden to Sri Lanka’s government or SriLankan and we will be able to have the right aircraft that the fleet requires.

"…[T[hose negotiations are going very well, and the idea is that the at the current market prices these orders will be converted into more suitable aircraft, which will be delivered to SriLankan Airlines in the next 5 to 7 years."

A new board that took over in April under Ranjith Fernando, a veteran banker and public servant hired specialist negotiators to talk with Airbus.

The deal is under is expected to come under a special presidential commission which is probing irregularities in the airline under its earlier boards and chief executives.

The cancellation of A350 orders from Aercap, a leasing firm, by the previous board also drew controversy and criticism due to the payments made to the leasing firm.

The controversial order for about a dozen A350s is expected to be a key focus of a Presidential Commission of Inquiry that is probing irregularities at the airline.

Meanwhile Tittawella said talks were progressing well.

The government’s public private partnership unit will resume a search for a partner for SriLankan Airline in September or October calling expressions of interest he said.





He expects at least two parties to be in the last stages of negotiations by the first quarter of 2019.

Tittawella, when he headed a privatization commission in the 1990s, brought Emirates as managing partner to SriLankan.

SriLankan made almost a billion dollars of losses after Emirates exited when ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa cancelled the visa for its chief executive. (Colombo/Aug21/2018)

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