SriLankan Airlines

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SriLankan Airlines
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
Subsidiaries Mihin Lanka[1]
Fleet size 20
Destinations 99[2]incl. codeshare
Company slogan You're Our World
Headquarters Katunayake, Sri Lanka[3]
Key people

Ajith Dias (Chairman)

Captain Suren Ratwatte (CEO)[4]

SriLankan Airlines (marketed as SriLankan Sinhalese: ශ්‍රී ලංකා ගුවන් සේවය; Tamil: இலங்கை விமான சேவை) is the flag carrier of Sri Lanka. It is headquartered in Katunayake, Sri Lanka, with its hub at Bandaranaike International Airport. SriLankan operates directs flights to Asian, European and Middle East destinations along with its code share routes which include to destinations in USA, Oceania as well. It became a member of the Oneworld alliance in 2014.

SriLankan was established in 1978 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.[5]


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.[6][7] 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.[8]

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,[9] 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.[10] 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.[11]

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.[12] 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.[13]

Following the ownership transfer, SriLankan took the decision to promote Colombo as a hub for flights to Asia.[14] The first destination of the expansion plan was Shanghai, China; the route was initiated on 1 July 2010.[15] The airline commenced flights to Guangzhou, China on 28 January 2011.[16]

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.


Air Lanka TriStar
SriLankan Airlines A340

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 March 2015, SriLankan Airlines serves 96 destinations in 49 countries,[17] including codeshares and remains the largest foreign carrier into the Maldives, with over 30 weekly flights between Male and Colombo. The SriLankan currently operates 258 weekly flights to 33 destinations in 20 countries, covering the main cities of the Europe, Middle East, India, South East Asia and the Far East.

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:

SriLankan also codeshares with French Railways SNCF.[26]

Airline 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. On 1 May 2014, Sri Lankan Airlines became a full-member of the alliance, making it the first airline in the Indian subcontinent to join any airline alliance.


Sri Lankan Airlines' new Airbus A330-300
An Airbus A340-300 landing at London Heathrow Airport
An Airbus A320 at Tiruchirappalli Airport

Airbus Era[edit]

The airline received its first Airbus aircraft in 1992, the Airbus A320-200 (reg:4R-ABA) 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 aircraft are used in high density flights to Middle East, Southeast Asia and Europe. The Airbus A330-200 aircraft were delivered during the rule of President Chandrika, the aircraft are used in flights to Europe and Southeast Asia. The Airbus A340 are the airlines flagship aircraft type until they are replaced by the ordered Airbus A350.

Fleet Development Plans[edit]

SriLankan Airlines aims to boost its fleet to 35 aircraft over the next five years, and had talks with both Airbus and Boeing regarding a deal that may consist of up to nine long-haul aircraft.[27] It has also leased four additional Airbus A320 aircraft.[28] SriLankan's CEO Kapila Chandrasena stated that the carrier wants to add either Airbus A330-300 or Boeing 777 aircraft to its fleet to replace its Airbus A340-300s, with deliveries beginning in 2013–2014.[29] Selected aircraft have also been refurbished to incorporate flat bed seating in business class and an enhanced Inflight Entertainment system.

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 starting from October 2014.[30] A further three Airbus A350-900s will be leased, with deliveries of these aircraft starting in 2017.[30]

An Airbus A330-300 aircraft, the first in a series of deliveries arrived in Colombo on the 31 of October 2014. The second A330-300 is expected in December 2014

Current fleet[edit]

As of October 2015, the SriLankan Airlines fleet consists of 20 aircraft, and have an additional 17 aircraft on order. SriLankan has an average fleet age of 10.5 years.[31][32][33]

Onboard Wifi[edit]

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 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.[36] 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)


New movies from Hollywood, old classics, and some films from India are available. Included are comedies, dramas, arts, sports, and children's TV.

CTV is SriLankan's channel for children with programmes such as comedies and cartoons. SriLankan has 22 radio channels to provide music from around the world. SriLankan's radio channels cover the European charts, Golden Era, classical, jazz, and popular music selections from Sri Lanka, Arabia, India, and Japan. New games have been added, including puzzles, playing cards, and classic board games.[37] In 2011, SriLankan will install AVOD systems, provided by IMS of the United States, on selected Airbus A330 and A340 aircraft.[citation needed]

Sri Lankan Catering[edit]

Sri Lankan Catering, although a 100%-owned subsidiary of SriLankan Airlines, is a standalone operation responsible for its own economic infrastructure, management and profitability. Under the guidance of its chief executive officer, the company’s prime responsibility is the preparation of in-flight meals for SriLankan Airlines. It also caters for foreign airlines, among which are Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines and Emirates. Sri Lankan Catering recently opened a laundry facility and took over the management of the Serenediva Transit Hotel, at Colombo's Bandaranaike International Airport.[citation needed]

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.[38] SriLankan subsequently launched FlySmiLes, which has since added a variety of new reward partners to its program.[39][40] 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.

Incidents and accidents[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.[41] 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".[42]


On 24 July 2001, Tamil Tiger terrorists launched a major pre-dawn suicide attack on Colombo-Bandaranayake International Airport. The raid left at least 19 people dead, including 14 terrorists, 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.[43][44]


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.[45] However, there are concerns about 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. Some reports suggest that 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.[46] This claim has been further supported as the government has failed to press any legal charges against the allegations made in the report.


  • SriLankan Cargo
  • SriLankan Catering
  • SriLankan Engineering
  • SriLankan Ground Handling[47]
  • SriLankan Holidays[48]
  • SriLankan IT Systems


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  2. ^ "SriLankan Airlines Flight Routes". 
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  6. ^ Air Ceylon
  7. ^
  8. ^ "World Airline Directory." Flight International. 14–20 March 1990 "Airlift International" 57.
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  15. ^ Sri Lankan Airlines to fly to Shanghai, LBO, 10 May 2010
  16. ^ SriLankan Airlines expands fleet, plans new destinations LBO, 20 July 2010
  17. ^ "Flight Schedules - SriLankan Airlines flights to London, Colombo, Male, Bangkok, etc.". Retrieved 24 April 2015. 
  18. ^ a b "airberlin and NIKI to operate flights to Colombo in codeshare with Sri Lankan Airlines". 2 July 2015. 
  19. ^ "SriLankan, Finnair to launch codeshares - Daily News Online : Sri Lanka's National News". Retrieved 24 April 2015. 
  20. ^ Codeshare partnership expanded between Malaysia Airlines and SriLankan Airlines eTurboNews, 23 June 2009|.
  21. ^ .  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  22. ^ "SriLankan expands in Central Asia with Siberian Airlines". Daily News Sri Lanka. 24 December 2013. Retrieved 24 December 2013. 
  23. ^ "AC-UL code share". 20 October 2011. 
  24. ^ SriLankan extends network to New York and four other cities through Etihad partnership The Island, 28 February 2010
  25. ^ SriLankan and Etihad Airways Announce New Codeshare Partnership PRZOOM – Newswire, 10 October 2008
  26. ^ "Codeshare 201108.pdf". Google Docs. Retrieved 24 April 2015. 
  27. ^ SriLankan and Mihin Lanka to acquire 9 more aircraft
  28. ^ Sri Lanka national carrier boosts fleet Lanka Business Online, 4 May 2011.
  29. ^ "ROUTES: SriLankan in talks to add six 777s or A330s". Flight International. 3 October 2011. 
  30. ^ a b "SriLankan Airlines to get 13 Airbus aircraft with 7 A350s". Retrieved 24 April 2015. 
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  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. ^ "SriLankan AirTaxi". SriLankan Airlines. Retrieved 23 March 2012. 
  37. ^ SriLankan Entertainment
  38. ^ SriLankan Airlines launches FFP Business Traveller, 26 March 2008.
  39. ^ ‘FlySmiles’ announces exciting rewards Sunday Times, 25 January 2009.
  40. ^ "http". // 
  41. ^ [1] Boeing 737 - MSN 20195 - CC-CYR (ex 4R-ULL)
  43. ^ "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. 
  44. ^ "SriLankan Airlines (Aviation Safety Network)". 4 March 2012. 
  45. ^ "Shocking Revelations Of Weliamuna Committee On SriLankan Airlines". Asian Mirror. 7 April 2015. Retrieved 9 April 2015. 
  46. ^ "Truth about Weliamuna's allegations about air hostess incident (Sinhala)". Mahinda Rajapaksa Information Centre. 10 April 2015. Retrieved 10 April 2015. 
  47. ^ SriLankan Ground Handling
  48. ^ "SriLankan Holidays". SriLankan Holidays. 
  • Birch, Doug. "SriLankan Airlines". Air International, February 2003, Vol 64 No 2. pp. 26–30.

External links[edit]