Home' Asian Aviation : AAV March 2014 Contents 40 AsianAviation | MARCH 2014
routing, which is already partly operated out of
London Heathrow Airport. On Pacific routes, either
Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific or Tokyo-based
Japan Airlines could offer onward connectivity, with
SriLankan Airlines already serving both hubs.
Within the US itself, Oneworld member American
Airlines brings extensive reach in a country that
Chandrasena admits has been a "huge gap in our
network". He also hints at expanding Australian
codeshares with Malaysia Airlines or introducing new
ones with Qantas, adding: "We are very, very keen
Alternatively, fifth-freedom flights operated with
SriLankan Airlines' own metal may be considered.
The flag carrier still serves two of its Chinese routes
-- Guangzhou and Hong Kong -- with a stopover
in Bangkok. The decision to open a new office in
Melbourne last year underscored its desire to re-
enter the Australian market. But for now the emphasis
is on optimising Oneworld codeshares, rather than
pursuing organic expansion.
"We need to really fine-tune the network to fully
synergise the Oneworld opportunity," Chandrasena
says. "What you will see is tweaking of the network,
increasing frequencies, and working towards daily
flights on all the destinations we serve ... Any
new destinations are decided on a standalone
Turning to SriLankan Airlines' five-year recovery
plan, Chandrasena notes that the initial phase was
heavily focussed on growing revenue.
Having taken its post-war capacity expansion
"up-front in year one and year two", the flag carrier
is now seeking to boost the economics of existing
services. "Now is the time for consolidation and also
stabilising those routes," he insists. "For the next
three or four years, I don't envisage any significant
SriLankan Airlines' network focuses heavily on
South Asia, with more than 80 flights per week to
India plus more than 30 to the Maldives. About 150
weekly services also ply domestic routes, although
some are Cessna flights operated by subsidiary
SriLankan Air Taxi. Between them, these three
countries account for roughly two-thirds of all flights
operated by the carrier.
When measuring Available Seat Kilometres,
however, the significance of SriLankan Airlines' long-
haul services becomes apparent. The airline's single
most important route is London, providing 28.5% of
capacity within the network. The UK capital is currently
served twice daily, and successful integration into
Oneworld could see a return to its former thrice
daily operation. Frankfurt, Bangkok, Paris and Tokyo
are the next largest routes, accounting for between
10.7% and 8.3% of capacity.
Medium-range services to the Middle East also
feature prominently, with regular services to the Gulf
cities of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Jeddah, Riyadh,
Dammam, Kuwait and Muscat. In Asia, its eight
Indian and four Chinese points are complemented
by Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Tokyo and
Noting that Oneworld has a "bit of a vacuum" in
South Asia, Chandrasena says his carrier's regional
footprint will be of most interest to the alliance.
SriLankan Airlines operates more flights to the
Maldives than anyone else, including flag carrier
Maldivian. Malaysia Airlines already codeshares on
flights from Colombo to Malé, the island nation's
capital. Other Oneworld members will likely follow
suit, but Chandrasena is spying connecting traffic
on a much grander scale.
"We see major high-volume traffic flows between
Asia and Africa, and especially China and Africa
given the Chinese investment in the continent," the
chief executive says. "From a geographical point of
view, the shortest route is above Sri Lanka."
Developing Colombo into a bridging point between
Africa and Asia would significantly change the flag
carrier's traffic composition, cementing its status
as a major regional hub. Chandrasena concedes,
however, that the project is only at the "market
evaluation and modelling stage".
SriLankan Airlines does not currently serve any
destinations in Africa, so pan-continental coverage
would require "some type of partnership or alliance".
Although Sri Lanka's government has held talks in
Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania, airline-to-airline
discussions have yet to be initiated. Getting them off
the ground will prove difficult. Kenya Airways already
codeshares with two Chinese carriers; South African
Airways may favour Etihad for Chinese connectivity;
and Tanzania lacks a strong international carrier.
SriLankan Airways has seven Airbus A350-900s on order.
"What you will see is tweaking of
the network, increasing frequencies,
and working towards daily flights on
all the destinations we serve ... Any
new destinations are decided on a
standalone commercial basis."
chief executive SriLankan Airlines
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