SriLankan Airlines has moved to address a number of stories that are currently circulating in the media in relation to recent flight cancellations and its technical crew numbers.
Reduced fleet operations
In a formal statement released on 25 June the airline advised that it has been managing with a reduced fleet of 15 aircraft as opposed to the intended 18 aircraft over the last two months.
This fleet reduction has unfortunately impacted the airline’s flight schedule and on-time performance.
SriLankan Airlines state that this situation is expected to ease off by mid-July 2023. The airline has forecast and aircraft shortage, which factors in scheduled lease expiration is, but the actual shortage was worsened by several unforeseen events.
According to the airline, this has included the prolonged time which has been taken to complete annual C checks on two of its aircraft due to the non-availability of components locally and the ongoing short supply of engines for Airbus A320neo aircraft globally.
The nation’s prevailing economic situation has also been an influencing factor, and the airline has had to delay the procurement processes for new leases due last year as a result.
Two aircraft to return to operations
The carrier goes on to advise that the two fleet aircraft which are currently undergoing maintenance C checks will finally return to line operations next week.
SriLankan Airlines prediction for the month of July is that positive change will come in the way of a short-term lease extension for an aircraft which was supposed to be returned.
In addition, the carrier expects for replacement engines for Airbus A320neo aircraft currently on the ground, as well as the arrival of a newly leased Airbus A330.
These expected changes will bump the numbers up to approximately 20 aircraft.
Current crew situation
On the subject of technical crew numbers, the carrier stated that 57 pilot resignations had been recorded from early 2021 to present day.
This number included some early retirements and a few more staff excellence can be anticipated. Prior to the pandemic SriLankan Airlines employed 320 pilots with an operational fleet of 27 aircraft.
The airline currently has 257 pilots which it confirms is a number sufficient to meet its operational requirements with a reduced fleet whilst keeping average crew flying hours well within global standards.
The carrier has only cancelled a small number of flights to date which includes a widely reported on flight to South Korea which was due to the sudden unavailability of schedule crew and replacements.
In closing its statement, the airline highlighted its awareness of the need to increase technical crew numbers in line with the planned expansion of its fleet.
To this end, the airline is currently engaged in the process of training new cadet pilots, and is in the process of hiring pilots, having advertised both locally and internationally.