SriLankan Airlines would like to address a number of stories that are currently circulating in the media in relation to flight cancellations and the airline’s technical crew numbers.
SriLankan Airlines has been managing with a reduced fleet of 15 as opposed to the intended 18 aircraft over the last two months, which has unfortunately impacted the airline’s flight schedule and on-time performance.
The good news is that this situation is expected to ease off by mid-July 2023.
SriLankan had forecasted an aircraft shortage factoring in scheduled lease expirations, but the actual shortage was worsened by several unforeseen events.
This includes the prolonged time being taken to complete annual ‘C’ checks on two SriLankan Airlines’ aircraft due to the unavailability of components locally and the ongoing short supply of engines for Airbus A320neo aircraft in the global marketplace, the latter of which has caused 350 aircraft to be grounded worldwide.
The airline also had had to delay the procurement process for new leases, due last year, in view of the country’s economic situation.
The two aircraft undergoing ‘C’ checks will finally return to operations next week. The month of July will bring more positive change in the way of a short-term lease extension for an aircraft that was supposed to be returned, four replacement engines for Airbus A320 neo aircraft on ground and the arrival of a newly leased Airbus A330, all of which would bump the SriLankan Airlines’ fleet to about 20 aircraft.
On the subject of technical crew numbers, 57 pilot resignations have been recorded from early 2021 to now including some early retirements, and a few more exits can be anticipated.
Prior to the pandemic, SriLankan Airlines employed 320 pilots for a fleet of 27 aircraft. The airline has 257 pilots at present, a number sufficient to meet its operational requirements of a reduced fleet and keep average crew flying hours well within global standards.
SriLankan Airlines has only cancelled a small number of flights to date including the widely reported on flight to South Korea due to the sudden unavailability of scheduled crew and replacements.
SriLankan Airlines is aware that it must increase the technical crew numbers in line with the planned expansion of its fleet.
The airline is already training new cadet pilots, and in the process of hiring pilots, having advertised both locally and internationally.