SriLankan Airlines

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SriLankan Airlines
ශ්‍රී ලංකා ගුවන් සේවය
இலங்கை விமான சேவை
SriLankan Airlines Logo.svg
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded 1947 (1947) (as Air Ceylon)
Commenced operations September 1979 (1979-09)
Hubs Bandaranaike International Airport
Frequent-flyer program FlySmiLes
Airport lounge Serendib Lounge
Alliance Oneworld
  • Mihin Lanka[1]
  • Sri Lankan Catering[2]
  • Sri Lankan Holidays[3]
  • Sri Lankan Engineering (MRO)[4]
  • Sri Lankan Ground Service[5]
  • Sri Lankan Aviation College[6]
  • Sri Lankan Cares[7]
Fleet size 24[8]
Destinations 33[9]
Company slogan You're Our World
Headquarters Level 3,
East Tower,
World Trade Centre,
Echelon Square,
Colombo 01,
Sri Lanka[10]
Key people Mr. Ajith N. Dias (Chairman)
Captain. Suren Ratwatte (CEO)
Mr. Rakhita Jayawardena (Director)
Colonel Sunil Peiris (Executive Director - HR)[11]

SriLankan Airlines, (marketed as SriLankan Sinhalese: ශ්‍රී ලංකා ගුවන් සේවය; Tamil: இலங்கை விமான சேவை) is the flag carrier of Sri Lanka.

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 to "SriLankan" and introduced the current livery. After ending the Emirates partnership, it continues using its re-branded name and logo.[12]

The airline’s hub is located at Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo, providing connections to its global route network of 99 destinations in 47 countries[13] (including codeshare operations) in Europe, the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Far East, North America, Australia and Africa.[14]

SriLankan Airlines joined the oneworld airline alliance on 1 May 2014 as the first carrier from the Indian Sub-continent.[14]

SriLankan has a global workforce of approximately 6800 employees in Sri Lanka and overseas. The airline has training programs in all aviation related fields, in order to cater to its own expansion and the constant need to replace its staff, in high demand by other airlines.[14]


Air Lanka[edit]

The Tristars were retired by 2000

Air Lanka was established as the flag carrier of Sri Lanka once the Sri Lankan government shut down the bankrupt Air Ceylon.[15][16] 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 purchased from All Nippon Airways. With 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.


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 a ten-year period. 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.[17]

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,[18] 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.[19] 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.[20]

The flight attendant uniform remained unchanged from the days of Air Lanka until February 2010, when a new uniform was introduced based on its previous uniform design.[21] SriLankan (and Air Lanka) mainly uses country's national dress, "Osariya" as the uniform for its female staffs (Stewardess & ground staff) whilst males were given the usual western black suit, during airlanka's days it was red in color. The designs are based on the patterns of Peacock which also used for its livery. In recognition of its high standard of service, SriLankan Airlines has been a holder of the Imperial Mark.[22]

Modern Era[edit]

Following the ownership transfer, SriLankan took the decision to promote Colombo as a hub for flights to Asia.[23] The first destination of the expansion plan was Shanghai, China; the route was initiated on 1 July 2010.[24] The airline commenced flights to Guangzhou, China on 28 January 2011.[25]

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 with exception for its Air-taxi services. SriLankan phased out their last Airbus A340-300 on 7 January 2015 with its last scheduled flight from Chennai to Colombo.[26]


Air Lanka TriStar
SriLankan Airlines A340
"visit Sri Lanka" belly of the new Airbus A330-300

The initial livery consisted of red stripes on a white fuselage, the tail being a solid red and sporting the corporate logo, a stylised peacock. This was the sole livery of the airline for nearly two decades, from 1979 to 1998. After SriLankan Airlines began a decade-long partnership with Emirates, 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 corporate logo.

Some aircraft have tourism advertisements on the rear part. In May 2014 an Airbus A330 in special Oneworld livery was delivered to commemorate the airline's establishment as a Oneworld member. Newly delivered aircraft are adorned with a blue under-belly bearing the tourism advertisement- "visit Sri Lanka" in white.


As of January 2016 it's operates to 99 destinations in 47 countries[13] (including codeshare operations) in Europe, the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Far East, North America, Australia and Africa.[14] Sri Lankan remains the largest foreign carrier into the Maldives,[27] with over 30 weekly flights between Male and Colombo. The SriLankan currently operates 258 weekly flights to 33 destinations in 20 countries (excluding codeshare), covering the main cities of the Europe, Middle East, India, South East Asia and the Far East.[13]

Countries with destinations of SriLankan Airlines (including seasonal and future destinations).
  Sri Lanka
  SriLankan Airlines Destinations

Codeshare agreements[edit]

SriLankan has codeshare agreements with the following Oneworld members:

SriLankan also has codeshare agreements with the following airlines:

Oneworld Alliance[edit]

On 11 June 2012, Sri Lankan 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 programme. Its membership implementation took approximately 18 months.[36]

SriLankan Airlines joined the oneworld airline alliance on 1 May 2014 as the first carrier from the Indian Sub-continent. SriLankan now flies alongside some of the biggest and premier brands in the airline business – airberlin, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LAN, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Royal Jordanian and S7 airlines. SriLankan will also be part of oneworld’s most extensive ranges of alliance fares.[14]


Sri Lankan Airlines' new Airbus A330-300

As of 1 January 2016, the SriLankan Airlines fleet consists of 22 aircraft,[37] and have an additional 7 A350 aircraft on order.[38][39]

Fleet Matrix[edit]

Aircraft Type Current
Airbus A320 6
Airbus A321 2
Airbus A330 14
Total 22

Onboard Wifi[edit]

SriLankan offers onboard wifi connectivity with new Airbus A330-300 fleet in partnership with OnAir.[40] SriLankan is South Asia's first airline to have on-board WiFi capability. [41]


SriLankan Airlines operates several cargo flights to Male, the Middle East, and India, using a McDonnel Douglas MD-80 of FitsAir.

SriLankan AirTaxi[edit]

Main article: SriLankan AirTaxi

SriLankan Airlines began domestic air taxi service using two Canadian-built DHC-6-100 aircraft to increase tourism in the southern and central cities of Sri Lanka. It currently flies to Ampara, Bentota, Castlereagh, Dandugama, Dikwella, Hambantota, Kandy, Koggala, Nuwara Eliya, Tissamaharama, and Trincomalee, all from Colombo.[42] With the increasing number of passengers, more aircraft are expected to join the fleet for the air taxi service[citation needed].AirTaxi began codeshare agreements with Cinnamon Air.


Business Class[edit]

SriLankan offers full flat bed seats on majority of long haul aircraft 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. The A330-300 aircraft which arrived October 2014 was the first of 15 aircraft to be fitted with these systems.

Economy Class[edit]

The Economy seats are light blue in color. SriLankan provides an individual video player with 18 movies and 22 radio channels for Economy Class. Both classes are given the option of a "Satcom" satellite phone. Satcom allows a passenger to call anyone in another seat free of charge. SriLankan is capable of preparing meals for those with dietary restrictions. On some flights, like Singapore to Colombo, SriLankan prepares hot meals (such as chicken and rice or seafood with vegetables) for Economy Class, as the flight is long.

SriLankan's newest fleet-additions will feature Thales Avant IFE, which features modern entertainment features and modern reclining seats with AVOD and ambient lighting throughout. The A330-300 aircraft which arrived October 2014 was the first of 15 aircraft to be fitted with these systems. (6 A330-300 and 9 A350-900 aircraft)


Sri Lankan Airlines offer AVOD inflight entertainment on its aircrafts.[43] The A320, A321 & A330-200 equipped with the RAVE ZODAIC Inflight Entertainment.[44] While the brand new A330-300 & the A350XWB on order will having the latest Thales AVANT Inflight Programme as the first airline in the world offer it.[45]

Sri Lankan Catering[edit]

SriLankan Catering Limited is the sole airline caterer in Sri Lanka. Its hub is at Bandaranaike International Airport.[46] SriLankan Catering's main line of business is in-flight catering to airlines that operate to Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA).[47] Its state-of-the-art flight kitchen at BIA has a capacity of 25,000 meals per day.[48]


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.[49]

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.[50] SriLankan subsequently launched FlySmiLes, which has since added a variety of new reward partners to its program.[51][52] 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, Etihad Airways and Mihin Lanka and non-airlines partners like Abans and Spa Ceylon.


The awards include:[14]

  • World’s Friendliest Cabin Staff - Skytrax
  • First Runner-up for World’s Best Cabin Staff – Skytrax
  • Best Airline in Central Asia (4 consecutive times) - Skytrax
  • Best Airline in South Asia (3 consecutive times) from Travel Trade Gazette
  • World’s Most Reliable Operator of Airbus A330’s (small fleet) by Airbus Industrie
  • World’s Most Reliable Operator of Airbus A340’s (small fleet) by Airbus Industrie
  • Best Overall In-flight Entertainment (for a fleet size of 20 or less), twice – World Airline Entertainment Association
  • Best Airline Turnaround of the Year 2004 – Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation
  • Galileo Indian Express Award for Best Eastbound International Airline
  • Foreign Carrier of the Year (South Asia sector) – Kuala Lumpur International Airport Awards
  • Runner-up for Best Asian Airline in survey by UK’s Daily Telegraph
  • Imperial Mark in recognition of exceptional levels of service, luxury and quality
  • PATA Gold Award 2007 for Best Airline Marketing Campaign
  • Airline of the Year 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 - Sri Lanka Presidential Travel & Tourism Awards
  • Merit Award at the National Best Quality Software Awards 2010 (NBQSA),
  • Second place ‘Unlocking Business Intelligence’ category. CIMA Global Awards 2010
  • Hall of Fame – Airline of the Year for three consecutive years - Sri Lanka Travel & Tourism – 2010
  • Best Print Media Presentation on Travel and Tourism in 2010 and 2011 at the Sri Lanka Presidential Travel & Tourism Awards
  • Etihad Global Excellence Award 2011 for Best Regional Caterer.
  • National Energy Efficiency Gold Award in the large-scale state sector at the National Green Awards 2011.
  • Green Jobs Award 2011 towards environmental conservation.
  • SriLankan IAA among IATA’s Top Ten best Authorized Training Centers (ATCs) in S. Asia.
  • Best Airline Operator from South Asia award at the KLIA Awards (in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011)
  • Silver Award in the ‘State Sector Buildings – Large Scale’ category at the Vidulka National Energy Efficiency Awards 2012
  • Bronze Award for SriLankan Catering Ltd. in the ‘State Sector Buildings – Large Scale’ category at the Vidulka National Energy Efficiency Awards 2012
  • ‘Best in Region: Asia & Australasia’ award at the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) 2012 Passenger Choice Awards in USA
  • Vidulka National Energy Efficiency Awards 2013 - The Bronze for Energy Efficiency and Optimisation - State Sector Large Enterprise
  • Vidulka National Energy Efficiency Awards 2013 - Outstanding Energy Manager Merit Award
  • World Travel Awards 2013 Indian Ocean Ceremony- Special Award of Appreciation
  • Best HR Strategy in line with Business Strategy Award’ at ‘Asia’s Best Employer Brand Award 2014’
  • The prestigious Corporate Social Responsibility Health Promotion Award for the Impactful Healthcare at Asia Responsible Entrepreneurship Awards 2014

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 Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam exploded on board Flight UL512 prior to 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 14 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.[53] 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".[54]


On 24 July 2001, Tamil Tigers launched a major pre-dawn attack on Sri Lankan Airforce hangar located along the Colombo-Bandaranayake International Airport. The raid left at least 19 people dead, including 14 Tamil Tigers fighters, 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.[55][56]


The SriLankan airlines has been accused of corruption and the Chairman Nishantha Wickramasinghe having affairs with air hostesses Wickramasinghe who is the brother-in-law of the former president Mahinda Rajapaksa. Wickramasinghe has been accused of lacking experience or formal education that qualifies him to be the head of an airline, and hundreds of millions of rupees of losses since its management was taken back from Emirates Airlines by the Rajapaksa Administration.[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;[58] however, the Mahinda Rajapaksa Information center denied the allegations and accused the report being biased and technically invalid since the head of committee was publicly supporting the current government in the elections and lacks technical knowledge about aviation industry and further accused he has been bribed to submit such a report as a publicity stunt to humiliate previous government and most of the points in the reports are untrue.[59]

However, 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 Wckramesinghe to make an on various irregularities in the Airline however they were unable to lcate 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]


  • SriLankan Cargo
  • SriLankan Catering
  • SriLankan Engineering
  • SriLankan Ground Handling[62]
  • SriLankan Holidays[63]
  • SriLankan IT Systems

See also[edit]

  • Colombo Marathon, Sri Lankan Airlines is the one of sponsors of this primary marathon of Sri Lanka


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  26. ^ - SriLankan Airlines ends commercial A340 operations 8 January 2016
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  44. ^
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  50. ^ SriLankan Airlines launches FFP Business Traveller, 26 March 2008.
  51. ^ ‘FlySmiles’ announces exciting rewards Sunday Times, 25 January 2009.
  52. ^ "FlySmiles". SriLankan Airlines. Retrieved 1 January 2016. 
  53. ^ [1] Boeing 737 - MSN 20195 - CC-CYR (ex 4R-ULL)
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  61. ^ "Nishantha informs PRECIFAC he is abroad". Retrieved 2015-10-29. 
  62. ^ SriLankan Ground Handling
  63. ^ "SriLankan Holidays". SriLankan Holidays. 
  • Birch, Doug. "SriLankan Airlines". Air International, February 2003, Vol 64 No 2. pp. 26–30.

External links[edit]

Media related to SriLankan Airlines at Wikimedia Commons