SriLankan Airlines says Airbus aircraft not right for them

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SriLankan Airlines said in a statement that it “wishes to clarify its position with regard to the utilization of one of its Airbus A330-200 aircraft bearing the serial number MSN-1008 and CAASL registration number 4R ALS.”

Sri Lanka’s national carrier stated with regard to the utilization of one of its Airbus A330-200 aircraft idling at the main Bandaranaike International Airport that the aircraft’s cabin configuration is unsuitable for its business model.

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This aircraft was acquired in 2017 as part of the conditions agreed to between the previous management of the airline and aircraft lessor Aercap, as a settlement against the cancellation of the order of four new Airbus A350-900 aircraft.

However, the cabin configuration of this aircraft, which was manufactured in 2009, is not suitable for SriLankan Airlines’ operations, having many seats and minimum space between seats in its Business Class cabin.

All other aircraft in the SriLankan Airlines fleet operate a two-class configuration of Business and Economy classes, with a particular standard of comfort in seating.

The previous management therefore took a decision to lease this aircraft to a European airline. However, after some time, this European airline violated the lease agreement by defaulting on the lease payments. The lessee also did not fulfill its obligations under the lease contract to prepare the aircraft for the handover.

The engineering team at SriLankan performed the required maintenance checks to make the aircraft ready to fly.

The management is also exploring the possibility of sub-leasing this aircraft to a charter operator or to another airline. Until such time, the aircraft remains at BIA as part of the SriLankan fleet, although it is not in use due to the above-mentioned reasons, SriLankan Airlines said.

It is a standard practice in most airlines that various interchangeable parts or components such as the engines that are urgently required for an operational aircraft are taken out of aircraft that are not in immediate use, if such parts are not at the time in stock in the airline’s spare parts stores.

SriLankan has removed one of the engines from this aircraft and fitted it to another aircraft as one of its engines is undergoing some maintenance work. These parts would be replaced prior to the aircraft being leased to another airline, once such a lease agreement is signed for the use of this aircraft.

The present management of SriLankan Airlines stressed that it was not involved in the decisions with regard to the ordering of the A350-900 aircraft, which took place in 2013; or the cancellation of the order in 2016; or of the acquisition of the A330-200 aircraft 4R ALS which is unsuitable for the airline’s present business model.

“The management is attempting to optimize the usage and return on investment on this aircraft, as with any other asset of the airline. Management is also taking the necessary steps to recover the losses to the airline from the relevant parties,” SriLankan said.