SriLankan Airlines is once again on its path to achieve its goals, despite recent setbacks. Vipula Gunatilleke, Chief Executive Officer, SriLankan Airlines, shares how the airline is armed to regain the route to profitability.
How important is the Middle East market for SriLankan Airlines?
The Middle East traffic contributes about 28 per cent of our revenue.
At the ATM this year, there was a special stand for SriLankan Airlines, could you enumerate your business strategy?
In terms of our business plans, we need to revisit some of the strategies finalised some months ago. Middle East is important so we have identified and are adding new capacity with the expansion of the fleet and strategies to attract the Middle Eastern traveller. In terms of tourist arrivals, the Middle East market has contributed about 4 to 5 per cent of the tourist arrivals, excluding other expatriates. To focus on the upper middle market, especially the high spending travellers, is vital.
Could you elaborate on additional capacity in ME?
As far as adding additional capacity and frequency is concerned, we are increasing the capacity to Abu Dhabi. At the moment, we are doing over 40 flights a week. With the right business plan, fleet and additional aircraft is expected to go up from 27 to 34. So definitely there will be more capacity in the future. Due to the recent unprecedented attacks in the country, we had to revisit all the strategies and observe how to deploy the capacity. Also, since we would expect a reduction in traffic from some of the European destinations, there would be induction of additional capacity, if there are opportunities.
What about the performance of the Indian market?
Indian sectors contribute more than 20 per cent of revenue, that is vital. Also, we operate over 100 flights a week to India, and are now looking at increasing it to 135 or 140 flights. Our focus for the Indian market is on short stays and transits. Overall, there are numerous aspects we are focusing on.
Will Sri Lankan introduce something new for the Indian market over 2019?
We are revamping our holidays arm and will focus more on working with the operators, MiCE market, etc.