SriLankan Airlines (UL, Colombo Int’l) has revised plans to axe almost its entire European network with the exception of London Heathrow flights. Late last year, initial details about the airline’s “Red-To-Black” restructuring programme showed SriLankan would terminate loss-making flights to Paris CDG, Frankfurt Int’l, and Rome Fiumicino leaving the British capital as its only remaining European destination.
However, under pressure from the local tourism industry, the state-backed carrier has since revised those plans stating it would now retain flights to France, Germany and the United Kingdom while dropping the Italian capital effective May 1 of this year.
“This year promises to be an interesting one for world aviation,” it said in a statement. “Fuel prices are near historic lows and global demand remains strong. SriLankan Airlines, similar to international carriers world over, has had to respond to this highly competitive market environment by re-evaluating its current operations and re-deploying capacity to more sustainable routes and destinations.”
SriLankan plans to add capacity in key markets such as the Middle East and India while continuing its bid to break into the Far East/Chinese tourist market.
In line with Red-To-Black’s revised emphasis on short- to medium-haul routes, SriLankan has now reportedly held talks with lessors concerning its proposed exit from an order with Airbus Industrie (AIB, Toulouse Blagnac) involving five A350-900s. In December last year, CEO Suren Ratwatte said the revised business plan would lead to SriLankan requiring more narrowbody jets as opposed to widebodies.