Sri Lanka's national carrier sees flood of cancellations

30 April 2019 - 650   - 0

National carrier, SriLankan Airlines has seen a flood of cancellations, after the Easter Sunday bombings, and expects to lose at least US$100 million in revenue due to an estimated drop of 30 per cent in tourist arrivals this year, its CEO said on Tuesday.

“We have been closely monitoring forward bookings for the next three months and as of today, cancellations in May is 17 per cent compared to May last year, 12 per cent in June (against June 2018) and about 18 per cent in July,” CEO Vipula Gunatilleka told TimesOnline, adding: "We expect these figures to go up."

A new 5-year business plan for 2019-2024, which was announced to the media earlier this month, would be re-visited, he said. Noting that the worst affected routes are London and Tokyo, he said that they were awaiting a message from the authorities on when the situation would be returned to normal.

“The moment we have some clarity from the Government then we can work (with the authorities) on relaxing the travel advisories. Without this clarity and assurances there is no use in targetted marketing and special promotions,” he said, adding that they would then examine how traffic could be increased (or restored) from India and China (Sri Lanka’s main tourist source markets).

SriLankan Airlines accounts for 1/3rd of the tourist traffic into the country. Attending the Arabian Travel Mart (ATM) which opened in Dubai on Sunday, he said there was a lot of sympathy there from foreign operators towards Sri Lanka.

“We can bounce back once normalcy is restored,” he said, noting that there was a situation now where people were not even keen to be transiting in Colombo.

Mr. Gunatilleka said that while the airline is looking at various other options like feeder traffic, there were new opportunities after debt-ridden Jet Airways suspended all flights on April 18 (including to Sri Lanka).  

SriLankan on Monday indefinitely postponed its AGM and EGM for shareholders, that was scheduled to be held today (April 30) and where the business plan would have been presented. The Government owns the majority of the shares with a few in the hands of airline workers. – ENDS -

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