SriLankan Airlines

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SriLankan Airlines
ශ්‍රී ලංකන් ගුවන් සේවය
இலங்கை விமான சேவை
SriLankan Airlines Logo.svg
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded10 December 1979; 41 years ago (1979 -12-10) (as Air Ceylon)[1]
Commenced operations1998; 23 years ago (1998)
HubsBandaranaike International Airport
Frequent-flyer programFlySmiLes
Fleet size24
Parent companyAviation Board
HeadquartersAirline Centre
Bandaranaike International Airport, Katunayake, Sri Lanka[3]
Key peopleAshok Pathirage (Chairman)
Vipula Gunatilleka (CEO)
RevenueIncrease US$ 1.017 billion (2019)[4]
Operating incomeNegative increase US$ −229.97 million (2019)[4]
ProfitNegative increase US$ −230.38 million (2019)[4]
Total assetsDecrease US$ 1.273 billion (2019)[4]
Total equityIncrease US$ −928.79 million (2019)[4]
EmployeesDecrease 6,794 (2019)[4]
WebsiteOfficial website Edit this at Wikidata

SriLankan Airlines (marketed as SriLankan) is the flag carrier of Sri Lanka and a member airline of the Oneworld airline alliance. It is currently the largest airline in Sri Lanka by number of aircraft and destinations and was launched in 1979 as Air Lanka following the termination of operations of the original Sri Lankan flag carrier Air Ceylon. Following its partial acquisition in 1998 by Emirates, it was re-branded and the current livery was introduced. In 2008, the government of Sri Lanka acquired all the shares of the airline from Emirates.[5] After ending the Emirates partnership, it retained its re-branded name and logo.[6] SriLankan Airlines operates over 560 flights per week across Asia.

The Airline operates to 113 destinations in 51 countries (including codeshare operations) from its main hub located at Bandaranaike International Airport near Colombo. SriLankan Airlines joined the oneworld airline alliance on 1 May 2014.[7]


Air Lanka[edit]

Air Lanka was established as the flag carrier of Sri Lanka once the Sri Lankan government shut down the bankrupt Air Ceylon.[8] Air Lanka's initial fleet consisted of two Boeing 707, leased from Singapore Airlines. One Boeing 737 was leased from Maersk Air and maintained by Air Tara. On 24 April 1980, the lease ended; Air Lanka received a replacement Boeing 737 leased from Royal Brunei. On 1 November 1980, Air Lanka commenced wide-body operations with a leased Lockheed L1011-1 Tristar from Air Canada.

On 15 April 1982, Air Lanka received its own L1011 Tristar purchased from All Nippon Airways. With the introduction of Tristar aircraft, the Boeing 707s were phased out and sold. Then another L1011 was leased from Air Canada whilst the third L1011 was purchased from All Nippon. On 1 May 1982, HAECO took over the maintenance of the two Air Lanka-owned Tristars, while Air Canada maintained two leased Tristars.

On 28 March 1980, Air Lanka signed a purchase agreement for two brand new Lockheed L1011-500 Tristars, the most advanced wide-body aircraft in the world at that time. The first Lockheed L1011-500 (4R-ULA) was accepted on 26 August 1982, at Palmdale, California. It was flown to Amsterdam as UL flight 566P. On 28 August, 4R-ULA "City Of Colombo" left for its inaugural flight from Amsterdam to Colombo as UL566. It reached Colombo on 29 August. This was followed by second Lockheed L1011-500, 4R-ULB, "City Of Jayawardanapura". On 8 June 1984 the airline received its first Boeing 747-200B "King Vijaya" and the second joined later. The aircraft were used on flights to Europe and a few flights to southeast Asia.


A now-retired SriLankan Airlines A340-300.

Air Lanka, which was state-owned, was partially privatized in 1998, with investment by Dubai-based Emirates Group, when Emirates and the Sri Lankan government signed an agreement for a ten-year strategic partnership. This agreement included exclusive rights for all aircraft ground handling and airline catering at Colombo-Bandaranaike airport for ten years. Emirates bought a 40% stake worth US$70 million (which it later increased to 43.6%) in Air Lanka and sought to refurbish the airline's image and fleet. The government retained a majority stake in the airline but gave full control to Emirates for investment and management decisions. In 1998, the Air Lanka re-branded to SriLankan Airlines.[9]

SriLankan acquired 6 Airbus A330-200s to complement its fleet of Airbus A340-300 and A320-200 aircraft. The A330-200 aircraft joined the airline between October 1999 and July 2000. The company's fourth A340-300 arrived at Colombo painted in the airline's new corporate livery. SriLankan upgraded its existing A340 fleet into a two-class configuration (business and economy class) whilst overhauling the interior to reflect the new corporate image.

The airline gradually increased its number of destinations with more additions for regional markets, notably India and the Middle East. Whilst continuing expansion in the region, SriLankan commenced flying to Jeddah, its third destination in Saudi Arabia, after Riyadh and Dammam, thus increasing the number of destinations in the Middle East to nine. Jeddah became the airline's 51st destination overall.

In 2008, Emirates notified the Sri Lankan Government that it would not renew its management contract,[10] which then expired on 31 March 2008. It claimed that the Sri Lankan Government was seeking greater control over the day-to-day management of the airline.[11] Emirates sold its 43.63% stake in the airline to the Government of Sri Lanka in a deal that was finalized in 2010, thus ending any affiliations the two airlines had with each other.[12]

Modern era[edit]

A DHC-6 Twin Otter floatplane used as part of SriLankan's Air-Taxi service.

In 2008 when Emirates pulled out, the accumulated profit of SriLankan was Rs. 9.288 billion in that financial year. From 2008 to 2015, when the government administration ran it, the loss for the seven years was Rs. 128.238 billion (US$875 million).[13][14]

Following the ownership transfer, SriLankan took the decision to promote Colombo as a hub for flights to Asia.[15] The first destination of the expansion plan was Shanghai; the route was initiated on 1 July 2010.[16] The airline commenced flights to Guangzhou on 28 January 2011.[17]

SriLankan joined the Oneworld alliance on 1 May 2014. During 2014 it started to renew and increase its fleet, with purchases of Airbus A330 & A350 models. Currently, SriLankan operates an all-Airbus fleet except for its discontinued Air-Taxi services.[18] SriLankan phased out their last Airbus A340-300 on 7 January 2016 with its last scheduled flight from Chennai to Colombo.

The airline terminated three European routes – Frankfurt, Paris and Rome – by end of 2016.

The airline absorbed the operations of sister carrier Mihin Lanka in October 2016, in a bid to create a single stronger national airline for Sri Lanka. Accordingly, SriLankan took over two of Mihin Lanka's aircraft and absorbed all of its route networks. This move added ten new destinations to SriLankan's route network.

In October 2017, SriLankan launched direct daily non-stop flights to Melbourne, Australia, its first new long haul route in over five years and the most ambitious expansion to date. The flights restore a regular direct air link between Australia and Sri Lanka after a hiatus of 16 years.[19]

SriLankan Airline has been operating during the Covid-19 pandemic carrying cargo and operating relief flights. On February 01, 2020 it operated a relief flight out of Wuhan, China.[20]

SriLankan has lost 36.3 billion rupees up to August 2020 and the government has approved a voluntary retirement package to for 560 employees at a cost of 1.46 billion rupees. [21]

Corporate affairs[edit]

The company's head office is at Airline Centre, Bandaranaike International Airport, Katunayake.[3]


The AirLanka logo (1979-1998).

The initial livery consisted of red stripes on a white fuselage. The tail was solid red and sporting the corporate logo, a stylized vimana locally known as 'dandu monara', the flying machine of the mythical king of Lanka, Ravana.[22] This was the sole livery of the airline for nearly two decades, from January 1979 to October 1998.

After Air Lanka began a decade-long partnership with Emirates, the name was changed to SriLankan Airlines; the livery was changed into a much simpler one, with an all-white fuselage, covered by blue 'SriLankan' titles, and the tail adorned with the new corporate logo.

In May 2014, an Airbus A330 & an Airbus A320 in special oneworld livery was delivered to commemorate the airline's establishment as a oneworld member. Newly delivered aircraft are adorned with a redesigned livery accompanying a blue underbelly slogan promoting Sri Lanka as a tourist destination.


SriLankan Catering is a wholly owned subsidiary of SriLankan Airlines, providing flight catering services to all airlines serving the Bandaranaike International Airport.

Its other businesses include provision of aircraft maintenance and overhaul services,[23] ground handling services,[24] packaged holiday products,[25] aviation training[26] as well as IT services.


SriLankan currently operates an online network of 40 destinations and codeshares with other airlines to provide services to a total of 42 cities in 20 countries. Its interline partnerships and the membership in Oneworld alliance allows it to offer passengers the connectivity to over 1,000 cities in 160 countries.

SriLankan is currently the largest foreign airline operating service to India, in terms of destinations, serving 14 cities. It is also the largest foreign airline into the Maldives, serving 2 cities.


On 11 June 2012, SriLankan Airlines was announced as oneworld's latest member-elect, on the sidelines of the IATA World Air Transport Summit in Beijing. Cathay Pacific served Sri Lankan Airlines as its sponsor through its alliance implementation program. Its membership implementation took approximately 18 months.[27] SriLankan Airlines joined the airline alliance on 1 May 2014 as the first carrier from the Indian Sub-continent.[7]

Codeshare agreements[edit]

SriLankan Airlines codeshares with the following airlines:[28]

Interline agreements[edit]

SriLankan Airlines have Interline agreements with the following airlines:[29]


Current fleet[edit]

A SriLankan Airbus A320neo
A SriLankan Airbus A321neo
A SriLankan Airbus A330-300

SriLankan Airlines has an all-Airbus fleet. As of September 2020, the SriLankan Airlines fleet consists of the following aircraft:[30][31][32]

SriLankan Airlines fleet
Aircraft In service Orders Passengers Notes
B E Total
Airbus A320-200 5 16 120 136 One painted in Oneworld livery
12 138 150
12 150 162
Airbus A320neo 2 12 138 150
Airbus A321-200 1 16 153 169
Airbus A321neo 4 12 176 188
Airbus A330-200 5 18 251 269 One painted in Oneworld livery.
Older to be replaced by Airbus A330-900.
252 270
256 274
Airbus A330-300 7 2 28 269 297
Airbus A330-900 4 TBA Order converted from Airbus A350-900.[33]
To replace older Airbus A330-200.
Total 24 6

Formerly operated[edit]

SriLankan Airlines former fleet
Aircraft Fleet Introduced Retired
Airbus A300B4 1 2000 2000
Airbus A319-100 1 2016 2016
Airbus A330-200 2 2000 2020
Airbus A340-300 7 1994 2016
Boeing 707-320 3 1979 1983
Boeing 737-200 6 1980 1995
Boeing 737-300 1 1992 1992
Boeing 747-200 2 1984 1987
Boeing 767-300ER 1 2010 2010
Lockheed L-1011 TriStar 19 1980 2000

Fleet development[edit]

The airline received its first Airbus aircraft in 1992, the Airbus A320-200 began flying to the airline's regional routes in Maldives, Pakistan and southern India. The Airbus A340-300 aircraft were ordered during the time of President Premadasa, the first A340 was delivered in 1994. The airline was the first in Asia to use the A340. The Airbus A330-200 aircraft were delivered during the rule of President Chandrika.

In 2012, during the time of President Rajapakse, SriLankan Airlines aimed to boost its fleet to 35 aircraft over the next five years, and had talks with both Airbus and Boeing regarding a deal.[34] SriLankan's former CEO Kapila Chandrasena stated that the carrier wanted to add either Airbus A330-300, Boeing 787-8 or Boeing 777-300ER aircraft to its fleet to replace its Airbus A340-300s, with deliveries beginning in 2013–2014.[35]

In April 2013, it was announced that SriLankan Airlines had won government approval to acquire four Airbus A350-900 and seven A330-300 aircraft, with deliveries of the A330-300 starting from October 2014.[36] Deliveries for the ordered A350-900s are set to commence in 2019. A further three Airbus A350-900s were leased, with deliveries of these aircraft starting in 2017.[36]

SriLankan phased out its last Airbus A340-300 on 7 January 2016, replaced by the A330-300 and the future A350-900.[37] As of January 2016, construction of the airline's first Airbus A350-900 has started.[38] On 23 February 2015, SriLankan Airlines finalized a deal with Air Lease Corporation and AerCap to acquire two Airbus A321neo aircraft, one from each leasing firm.[32]

On 10 May 2016, due to financial difficulties, the airline announced it would cancel its order of eight A350 aircraft. As of December 2019, the four aircraft of Airbus A350-900 are still in the Airbus monthly order book, and not yet been canceled or converted order to A330-900.[39]



Business Class seating on SriLankan's Airbus A330-200s.

SriLankan offers two classes of service, Business Class and Economy Class. In Business Class, SriLankan offers full flat-bed seats on all of its long haul fleet with Audio Video on Demand (AVOD) facilities. The fully flat bed seat offers a 19.5 inches wide seat that can be reclined into a 180 degree 79 inches long bed. Each seat has a 15-inch personal IFE system. SriLankan's newest fleet additions will feature Thales Avant IFE, which features modern entertainment features and extended business class seats. Its A330-300 fleet presents an all-aisle access seating in a 1-2-1 arrangement on Business Class.[40] On its A320 and A321 fleet, Business class is configured in a 2-2 layout, offering extra reclining seats, each seat with a width of 19 inches and a pitch between 39 and 49 inches.[41]

SriLankan provides in-seat entertainment in Economy class on all its wide-bodied aircraft and the vast majority of narrow-body aircraft. On its A330-300 and A320/A321neo aircraft, all cabin classes are provided the option of paid-for in-flight internet access and mobile telephony services.


In-flight entertainment on the A320 fleet and Business Class catering on a flight from Mahé.

Sri Lankan Airlines offer AVOD inflight entertainment on its aircraft.[42] The A320, A321 & A330-200 equipped with the RAVE ZODAIC Inflight Entertainment.[43] The new A330-300 have the latest Thales AVANT Inflight Programme.[44] SriLankan offers onboard WiFi connectivity with new Airbus A330-300 and A320/A321neo fleets in partnership with OnAir.[45] SriLankan is South Asia's first airline to have on-board WiFi capability.[46]


SriLankan Catering depot at Bandaranaike International.

SriLankan Catering Limited is the sole airline caterer in Sri Lanka. Its hub is at Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA).[47] SriLankan Catering's main line of business is in-flight catering to airlines that operate to Bandaranaike International Airport.[48] Its state-of-the-art flight kitchen at BIA has a capacity of 25,000 meals per day.[49] Incorporated in 1979, as Air Lanka Catering Services Limited with BOI status, SriLankan Catering commenced business as a joint venture with Thai Airways International. In 1998 when the joint venture agreement with Thai Airways International lapsed Air Lanka Limited bought the shares of the joint venture partner and thus Air Lanka Catering Services became the fully owned subsidiary of SriLankan Airlines Limited. Thereafter the Company changed its name to SriLankan Catering (Private) Limited in September 2000.[50]

Frequent flyer programme[edit]

SriLankan's first frequent-flyer programme was called Serendib Miles and was abandoned in early 2000. It then became a partner of Emirates' Skywards frequent-flyer program. However, this agreement ceased to exist when the partnership between the two airlines concluded on 31 March 2008.[51] SriLankan subsequently launched FlySmiLes, which has since added a variety of new reward partners to its program.[52][53] New membership tiers were added after the airline's enrollment to the oneworld alliance to accommodate oneworld membership tiers. Gaining members better privileges aboard all Oneworld airlines.

There are a total of four membership tiers as of 1 May 2014. They are:

  • FlySmiLes Blue: Base tier
  • FlySmiLes Classic: Oneworld Ruby
  • FlySmiLes Gold: Oneworld Sapphire
  • FlySmiLes Platinum: Oneworld Emerald

FlySmiles partners include all Oneworld airlines, Cinnamon Air and Etihad Airways and non-airlines partners like Abans and Spa Ceylon.

Accidents and incidents[edit]

Five of the six aircraft that have been destroyed, and all of the reported deaths of SriLankan Airlines passengers and employees, have been a result of the civil conflict in Sri Lanka.


On 3 May 1986, a bomb planted by the terrorist group LTTE exploded on board Flight UL512 before takeoff at Bandaranaike International Airport. The bomb, which had been timed to explode in-flight, went off while the Lockheed L-1011 'Tristar' aircraft was on the ground, killing 21 of 128 passengers. Officials believe the bomb may have been concealed in crates of meat and vegetables that were being freighted to the Maldives. Other reports believe that the bomb was hidden in the aircraft's 'Fly Away Kit'.


In 1992, the right landing gear of an Air Lanka Boeing 737-200 (registration 4R-ULL) at Madras airport (now Chennai International Airport) failed upon landing and the right engine came into contact with the runway. The aircraft pulled to the right and finally came to a stop, with the nose wheel and right wing on the grass to the right of the landing runway. The right engine caught fire – extinguished by the airport safety services – and the 104 passengers and 12 crew evacuated the aircraft via the chutes on the left side without injury. The damage to the aircraft was substantial; the plane was subsequently repaired and sold on.[54] The Indian Directorate General of Civil Aviation concluded that "the accident occurred as a result of failure of the right hand main landing gear beam during the landing due to pre-existing stress corrosion cracks and pits at its inboard lug hole and higher than normal landing loads contributed to its failure".[55]


On 24 July 2001, the LTTE launched a major pre-dawn attack on Sri Lankan Airforce hangar located along the Bandaranaike International Airport. The raid left at least 19 people dead, including all 14 LTTE Cadres, two army commandos and three air force personnel. Two of SriLankan Airlines' Airbus A330 planes (4R-ALE and 4R-ALF), one A320 (4R-ABA) and one of their A340 planes (4R-ADD) were destroyed. Two other planes were damaged (A340 4R-ADC and A320 4R-ABB). A number of military planes were also damaged and destroyed.[56][57]


In March 2015, a report was released following a Board of Inquiry investigation into corruption at SriLankan during the time it was under the chairmanship of Nishantha Wickramasinghe. The Board has reported that corruption was widespread and confirmed the allegations of Nishantha Wickramasinghe's affairs.[58] However, the Mahinda Rajapaksa Information center denied the allegations, and accused the report of being biased and invalid, accusing the head of the committee of publicly supporting the current government in the elections and lacking technical knowledge about the aviation industry. It further claimed that he had been bribed to submit such a report as a publicity stunt to humiliate the previous government and that most of the points within it were untrue.[59] The airline's short-lived Air-Taxi service and its mismanagement was found to have caused the loss of millions of dollars to the airline.[18]

In October 2015, the Presidential Commission of Inquiry to Investigate and Inquire into Serious Acts of Fraud, Corruption and Abuse of Power, State Resources and Privileges (PRECIFAC) attempted to summon Wickramasinghe to inquire about various irregularities in the Airline; however, they were unable to locate him, and his wife claimed he had not come home for three years and that she was unaware of his whereabouts. Later he notified the PRECIFAC that he was abroad and was unable to give a statement.[60][61]

See also[edit]

  • Colombo Marathon, Sri Lankan Airlines is one of the sponsors of this primary marathon of Sri Lanka
  • Mihin Lanka, a government owned low-fare leisure airline.


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External links[edit]

Media related to SriLankan Airlines at Wikimedia Commons