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SriLankan Airlines group announces profit

Chairman of Sri Lankan Airlines, J M S Brito, has paid tribute to his staff and management team…

Chairman of Sri Lankan Airlines, J M S Brito, has paid tribute to his staff and management team who have worked through successive crises in the past year to see the carrier through to profit.

This performance cannot be measured or quantified in financial teams, and I am proud to say that the SriLankan Airlines group and its staff proved to be a tremendous source of strength for the nation during its times of greatest crisis in the aftermath of the tsunami of December 26, he said.

Apart from providing services free of charge for affected foreign tourists to return home, and handling the unloading of tens of thousands of life-saving supplies, Sri Lankan organised relief and reconstruction efforts on both the devastated south and east coasts, which continue to this day.

A nett profit was recorded by the carrier for the financial year 2004/5, down 75.58 per cent, but officials say this figure has also been affected by the continuing rise in the price of aviation fuel.

Our expenditure on fuel has risen by more than 70 per cent, and every one US cent increase in oil adds a US$1 million surcharge to our operating costs, explained CEO Peter Hill. However, despite these circumstances, we have achieved a modest profit and this is largely due to the dedication of every one of our staff.

Despite disruption both to tourism and the normal commercial activities following the tsunami, he said SriLankan had stuck to its expansion plans: The airline has a long-standing tradition of rising to face the challenges that spring up in its path, and we have continued to seek opportunities to adapt and grow.

In addition, we have faced increased competition from low cost carriers and competitors that are heavily supported by their respective governments, enabling them to offer travel at below cost in a move that would be commercial suicide for operators such as SriLankan.

During the past year, the Sri Lankan carrier has increased frequencies to London, Bangkok, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur; enhanced its Middle East and Indian sub-continent networks, planned the launch of a Beijing service, boosted its codeshare operations with Emirates to include more European destinations as well as New York, and has also introduced e-ticketing throughout its network.

Overall, revenues have risen 15.08 per cent while passenger numbers were up 17.48 per cent, even despite the huge drop experienced in the months immediately after the tsunami, said Hill.

Two new Airbus 320s plus two De Havilland Turbo Otter aircraft have been introduced in to the fleet while total flights flown rose 28.86 per cent and average load factor reached 70.04 per cent, up slightly on the previous year.

While operations continue to pose a challenge, we have great expectations for the coming year when the new flight kitchen and expanded cargo centre will open, adding greatly to the capacity of these divisions, said Hill.

We are confident that Colombo will take shape as a major aviation hub in South Asia, and tourism to Sri Lanka will continue to regain its momentum, said Hill.

Theodore Koumelis
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Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.