SriLankan Airlines

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SriLankan Airlines
ශ්‍රී ලංකන් ගුවන් සේවය
இலங்கை விமான சேவை
SriLankan Airlines Logo.svg
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded 1 September 1979
Hubs Bandaranaike International Airport
Frequent-flyer program FlySmiLes
Alliance Oneworld
  • Sri Lankan Catering[1]
  • Sri Lankan Holidays[2]
  • Sri Lankan Engineering (MRO)[3]
  • Sri Lankan Ground Service[4]
  • Sri Lankan Aviation College[5]
  • Sri Lankan Cares[6]
Fleet size 26[7]
Destinations 42[8]
Company slogan You're Our World
Headquarters Level 3,
East Tower,
World Trade Centre,
Echelon Square,
Colombo 01,
Sri Lanka[9]
Key people Ajith N. Dias (Chairman)
Captain Suren Ratwatte (CEO)

SriLankan Airlines (marketed as SriLankan) is the flag carrier of Sri Lanka. It 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 introduced the current livery. After ending the Emirates partnership, it has continued using its re-branded name and logo.[10]

The airline operates to 94 destinations from its main hub located at Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo.[11][12] SriLankan Airlines joined the Oneworld airline alliance on 1 May 2014.[12]


Air Lanka[edit]

Air Lanka Boeing 747–200 at Basle Airport – December 1984

Air Lanka was established as the flag carrier of Sri Lanka once the Sri Lankan government shut down the bankrupt Air Ceylon.[13] 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.


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.[14]

A Sri Lankan airlines A340-311 (4R-ADA)

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.

Airbus A320-214, SriLankan Airlines

In 2008, Emirates notified the Sri Lankan Government that it would not renew its management contract,[15] 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.[16] 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.[17]

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.[18] 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.[19]

Modern era[edit]

SriLankan Airlines Airbus A330-300

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).[20][21]

Following the ownership transfer, SriLankan took the decision to promote Colombo as a hub for flights to Asia.[22] The first destination of the expansion plan was Shanghai, China; the route was initiated on 1 July 2010.[23] The airline commenced flights to Guangzhou, China on 28 January 2011.[24]

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 2016 with its last scheduled flight from Chennai to Colombo.

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

The airline absorbed Mihin Lanka by end 2016, as it was loss making, but the whole staff didn't get absorbed. The airline took Mihin's A319-132 aircraft and 2 of A321-231 aircraft. Today Sri Lankan airlines operates Mihin Lanka's 11 routes, Jakarta, Dhaka, Lahore, Bahrain, Varanasi, Gaya, Madurai, Seychelles, Sharjah, Kolkata and Gan, Maldives.

Corporate affairs[edit]

from 1998


The initial livery consisted of red stripes on a white fuselage, the tail being a solid red and sporting the corporate logo, a stylised vimana locally known as 'dandu monara', the flying machine of the mythical king of Lanka, ravana.[25] This was the sole livery of the airline for nearly two decades, from January 1979 to October 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.

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 underbelly bearing the tourism advertisement- "visit Sri Lanka" in white.


SriLankan Airlines operates several cargo flights to Male, the Middle East, and India, using a McDonnel Douglas MD-80 of FitsAir. 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.[26] Other subsidiaries include catering, engineering, ground handling and IT services.[27][28]


SriLankan currently operates an online network of 44 destinations, and code shares with other airlines to a total of 105 cities in 47 countries. As a member of the prestigious one world alliance, SriLankan also offers its passengers connectivity to over 1,000 cities in 160 countries that are served by its one world partner airlines

SriLankan operates 258 weekly flights across Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East and Australia/Oceania

Sri Lankan is the largest foreign carrier into the Maldives, with over 30 weekly flghts between Male and Colombo.

SriLankan airlines also serves to 14 destinations in India making India the single largest market with the highest number of destinations than any other country for the airline.

SriLankan Cargo destinations[edit]

SriLankan Cargo operates dedicated freighter services on the following routes:

  • Colombo – Bangalore
  • Colombo – Chennai
  • Colombo – Chittagong – Ho Chi Minh City – Colombo
  • Colombo – Lahore – Dhaka – Colombo
  • Colombo – Malé
  • Colombo – Mumbai
  • Colombo – Visakhapatnam
  • Colombo – Trivandrum
  • Colombo – Kochi
  • Colombo – Coimbatore


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.[29] SriLankan Airlines joined the airline alliance on 1 May 2014 as the first carrier from the Indian Sub-continent.[12]

Codeshare agreements[edit]

SriLankan Airlines codeshares with the following airlines:[30]


SriLankan Airlines operates a fleet of Airbus aircraft composed of the Airbus A320, Airbus A320neo, Airbus A321 and Airbus A330. The airline also has Airbus A320neo and Airbus A321neo aircraft on order. On February 27[when?], the airline took delivery of its first A320neo aircraft as a part of its fleet renewal plan. The second A320neo aircraft is scheduled for delivery in April 2017, followed by the first and second A321neo aircraft in the second quarter. A third A321neo is to arrive before the end of 2017, with the fourth A321neo is due in the first quarter of 2018.



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.

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 (7 A330-300 and 9 A350-900 aircraft).


Sri Lankan Airlines offer AVOD inflight entertainment on its aircraft.[31] The A320, A321 & A330-200 equipped with the RAVE ZODAIC Inflight Entertainment.[32] The new A330-300 50s have the latest Thales AVANT Inflight Programme.[33] SriLankan offers onboard wifi connectivity with new Airbus A330-300 fleet in partnership with OnAir.[34] SriLankan is South Asia's first airline to have on-board WiFi capability.[35]


SriLankan Catering Limited is the sole airline caterer in Sri Lanka. Its hub is at Bandaranaike International Airport.[36] SriLankan Catering's main line of business is in-flight catering to airlines that operate to Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA).[37] Its state-of-the-art flight kitchen at BIA has a capacity of 25,000 meals per day.[38] 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.[39]

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.[40] SriLankan subsequently launched FlySmiLes, which has since added a variety of new reward partners to its program.[41][42] 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 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.[43] 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".[44]


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.[45][46]


SriLankan airlines has been accused in the recent past of corruption, and the former Chairman Nishantha Wickramasinghe of having affairs with air hostesses. Wickramasinghe, who is the brother-in-law of the former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, has been accused of lacking the experience or formal education that would qualify him to be the head of an airline. Hundreds of millions of rupees of losses were suffered since the company's management was taken back from Emirates Airlines by the Rajapaksa Administration. In one incident, a SriLankan flight from Colombo to Paris, which was supposed to wait until a tour group of some 80[vague] passengers en route to Paris from Malé, suddenly flew off, transferring the tour group to other carriers. It was alleged that an air hostess for the flight, who was having an affair with Nishantha Wickramasinghe, couldn't wait. The costs of transferring the tour group were borne by SriLankan Airlines.[47]

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.[48] 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.[49]

The Board of Inquiry also revealed an instance of a cabin crew member being released to purportedly work at the Presidential Secretariat. She admitted that she had worked at Namal Rajapaksa’s office in ‘Temple Trees’. She was illegally granted Rs. 75,000 a month from SriLankan as fuel re-imbursements and the former Chairman or the CEO had approved such payments totalling Rs. 2,853,935.04. It also turned out that the submitted petrol bills had false serial numbers.[21]

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.[50][51]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Home – SriLankan Catering". 
  2. ^ "SriLankan Holidays – SriLankan Airlines". 
  3. ^ "SriLankan Airlines – Engineering". 
  4. ^ "Corporate Profile – SriLankan Airlines – Ground Handling". 
  5. ^ "COURSE FINDER". 
  6. ^ "An error occurred". Retrieved 14 July 2017. 
  7. ^ "SriLankan Airlines Fleet Details and History". 
  8. ^ "SriLankan Airlines Flight Routes". 
  9. ^ "Contact Us- Contact SriLankan Airlines". Retrieved 14 July 2017. 
  10. ^ "Sri Lankan Airlines buys back 43.6 pc stake from Emirates". The Economic Times. Retrieved 24 April 2015. 
  11. ^ "Flight Schedules – SriLankan Airlines flights to London, Colombo, Male, Bangkok, etc.". Srilankan. Retrieved 11 January 2016. 
  12. ^ a b c "Our Airline". Srilankan. Retrieved 11 January 2016. 
  13. ^ "The pioneering Air Ceylon days". FT. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 
  14. ^ "World Airline Directory." Flight International. 14–20 March 1990 "Airlift International" 57.
  15. ^ Reed Business Information Limited. "Emirates walking away from SriLankan". Retrieved 24 April 2015. 
  16. ^ Management contract terminated January 2008, OAG, News briefing
  17. ^ Sri Lanka Buys Emirates’ Stake in SriLankan Airlines Archived 10 July 2010 at the Wayback Machine. Anusha Ondaatjie and Asantha Sirimanne, BusinessWeek, 7 July 2010.
  18. ^ "Sri Lankan airlines changes uniform". Demotix. Retrieved 24 April 2015. 
  19. ^ "Imperial Mark honours SriLankan, Daily News, 12 July 2010". 12 July 2010. 
  20. ^ "Sri Lanka's loss-making carrier seeks foreign partner". The Daily Star. Retrieved 2016-04-01. 
  21. ^ a b "From paradise to hell: The inside story of how SriLankan Airlines was skyjacked and plundered | The Sunday Times Sri Lanka". Retrieved 2016-04-01. 
  22. ^ "Consolidating Colombo, Sri Lanka as an aviation hub". Retrieved 24 April 2015. 
  23. ^ Sri Lankan Airlines to fly to Shanghai, LBO, 10 May 2010
  24. ^ SriLankan Airlines expands fleet, plans new destinations LBO, 20 July 2010
  25. ^ "The Rough Guide to Sri Lanka". Rough Guides. 
  26. ^ "SriLankan AirTaxi". SriLankan Airlines. Retrieved 23 March 2012. 
  27. ^ "SriLankan Ground Handling". Retrieved 14 July 2017. 
  28. ^ "SriLankan Holidays". SriLankan Holidays. 
  29. ^ "SriLankan Airlines joins oneworld". Cathay Pacific (Press release). Retrieved 1 January 2016. 
  30. ^ "Profile on SriLankan Airlines". CAPA. Centre for Aviation. Archived from the original on 2016-10-29. Retrieved 2016-10-29. 
  31. ^ "Inflight Entertainment- Inflight Movies". Retrieved 14 July 2017. 
  32. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 February 2016. Retrieved 1 January 2016. 
  33. ^ "SriLankan Airlines First Worldwide to offer Thales InFlyt Experience Live News & Weather Application". 
  34. ^ "Sri Lankan Airlines Brings Mobile and Wi-Fi Access On Board". 11 April 2014. Retrieved 8 January 2015. 
  35. ^ "SriLankan Airlines flies its first fully-connected aircraft". 13 Nov 2014. Retrieved 8 January 2015. 
  36. ^ "Accreditation – SriLankan Catering". Retrieved 2016-01-01. 
  37. ^ "F&B Services for Aircraft Catering – SriLankan Catering". Retrieved 2016-01-01. 
  38. ^ "Customer Service – SriLankan Catering". Retrieved 2016-01-01. 
  39. ^ "History – SriLankan Catering". Retrieved 2016-01-01. 
  40. ^ SriLankan Airlines launches FFP Business Traveller, 26 March 2008.
  41. ^ ‘FlySmiles’ announces exciting rewards Sunday Times, 25 January 2009.
  42. ^ "FlySmiles". SriLankan Airlines. Retrieved 1 January 2016. 
  43. ^ [1] Boeing 737 – MSN 20195 – CC-CYR (ex 4R-ULL)
  45. ^ "Intelligence failures exposed by Tamil Tiger airport attack". Jane's Intelligence Review. 2001. Archived from the original on 25 February 2008. Retrieved 9 April 2008. 
  46. ^ "SriLankan Airlines (Aviation Safety Network)". 4 March 2012. 
  47. ^ "Shiranthi Brother SriLankan Chairman’s Girlfriend Couldn’t Wait". Colombo Telegraph. Retrieved 2015-10-29. 
  48. ^ "Shocking Revelations Of Weliamuna Committee On SriLankan Airlines". Asian Mirror. 7 April 2015. Retrieved 9 April 2015. 
  49. ^ "Truth about Weliamuna's allegations about air hostess incident (Sinhala)". Mahinda Rajapaksa Information Centre. 10 April 2015. Retrieved 10 April 2015. 
  50. ^ "PRECIFAC unable to locate Nishantha Wickramasinghe". Retrieved 2015-10-29. 
  51. ^ "Nishantha informs PRECIFAC he is abroad". Retrieved 2015-10-29. 
  • 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