National carrier begins evolutionary journey

Saturday, 1 November 2014 00:57 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • SriLankan Airlines takes delivery of first of seven A330-300s on order
  In a major milestone signifying the beginning of a new era, national carrier SriLankan Airlines’ new Airbus A330-300 touched down at the Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake yesterday, to a ceremonial welcome at an event attended by the Minister of Civil Aviation, Deputy Minister of Civil Aviation, Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Chairman of SriLankan Airlines, aviation officials, corporates, diplomats, members of the clergy and eager employees. New Airbus A330-300 touched down at the Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake   The new wide body A330-300 aircraft with its superior inflight features and comfort, advanced technological features and enhanced fuel efficiency joins SriLankan’s existing Airbus wide-body fleet of A330-200 and A340-300 aircraft. Minister of Civil Aviation Piyankara Jayaratne said: “It is my privilege as the Minister in charge of this all important aviation industry to be a witness on this momentous occasion of the arrival of SriLankan Airlines’ newest aircraft. I am sure all those present especially the employees of our national carrier are filled with a sense of pride and achievement, a sentiment I’m sure is shared by the people of this country, as this day marks the beginning of a new era for aviation in Sri Lanka.” “The arrival of the A330-300 aircraft is the first of several other new aircraft being acquired, representing the restructuring of the national carriers fleet in keeping with the modern standards of a highly competitive airline industry, that is constantly transforming maintaining a dynamism that makes it the leader in global transportation. With the aviation sector being identified as a key economic growth area in the ‘Mahinda Chinthana,’ the 2010 policy statement of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Government has supported all initiatives towards making Sri Lanka an aviation hub of the region.” SriLankan Airlines CEO Kapila Chandrasena presenting the National Flag to Civil Aviation Deputy Minister Geethanjana Gunawardena yesterday after the new Airbus A330-300 touched down at the Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake. SriLankan Airlines Chairman Nishantha Wickramasinghe, French Ambassador Jean-Paul Monchau and British High Commissioner John Rankin and are also present – Pix by Lasantha Kumara   The Minister further stated: “The major infrastructure development undertaken by the government such as the second international airport in Mattala, the Hambantota seaport and the highway systems, combined with the favourable geographical location, offer the country an invaluable opportunity to become an aviation hub. It is in keeping with the President’s vision, the Government has supported SriLankan Airlines’ fleet modernisation program to acquire new generation of aircraft to help the airline to fly confidently into the future.” SriLankan Airlines Chairman Nishantha Wickremasinghe reaffirmed the national carrier’s commitment to the development of the country’s aviation sector and views the acquisition of the aircraft as a progressive move towards supporting the Government’s goal to make Sri Lanka an aviation hub in the region. Wickremasinghe said: “I am delighted to have the first of seven A330-300s on order joining our fleet today, which is a red-letter day for the SriLankan Airlines family and moreover a reason for national pride as our country’s flagship carrier gears itself to meet the challenges and ever growing demands of the global travel industry. This delivery launches the process of the fleet renewal and replacement program and affords us the opportunity to enhance our product offering to our customers and puts our product on par with the leading international airlines serving Sri Lanka. This underscores our commitment towards innovation of products and services in order to strengthen Sri Lanka’s aviation sector. This important delivery marks the beginning of our plans for diversifying our aircraft portfolio and increasing the appeal to both Sri Lankan and international passengers.” Wickremasinghe added: “SriLankan has provided the impetus for making Sri Lanka an aviation hub by achieving even greater brand recognition and global connectivity with its membership in oneworld, the leading airline alliance. We have a sound reputation as a provider of internationally accredited Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) services in the region and plans are underway to establish a new MRO facility in Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport for servicing of Narrow body aircraft due for completion at the end of 2015, providing jobs and skills for Sri Lankan youth in aircraft maintenance and technical fields. Also, planned is the establishment of a fully-fledged SriLankan Aviation College in Mattala by 2016. These projects combined with our ambitious fleet renewal and route expansion to new markets will take Sri Lanka’s aviation industry to greater heights and place us firmly on the global aviation map.” SriLankan is due to commence flights later this year to Kunming, making it the fifth destination that the carrier operates to in China alongside a weekly charter flight to Chongqing. The airline is also evaluating possible destinations in Africa and Australia in 2015. The first of SriLankan’s seven latest airliners, the new A330-300 aircraft, pursuant to an order placed with Airbus, was handed over to the airline at a function in Toulouse on Thursday 30 October attended by SriLankan Airlines CEO Kapila Chandrasena and Airbus Executive Vice President Programmes Tom Williams. SriLankan is to take delivery of its second A330-300 by the end of this year, with the balance five aircraft to be inducted periodically throughout the year 2015. The airline will also be acquiring eight A350-900s with SriLankan achieving a milestone being the first airline in South Asia to acquire this new generation of aircraft, with three due to be delivered in 2016 and a fourth in 2017. The balance A350s are to be inducted to the airlines’ fleet by 2020. The A330-300 powered by twin Rolls Royce Trent 700 engines known for its proven passenger appeal and fuel efficiency is one of the most widely used wide body aircraft in service today. “Combining the highest levels of reliability, superior economics and great passenger appeal, the A330-300 will fit seamlessly into the SriLankan Airlines fleet,” said John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer Customers. “We are very proud of our two decades of partnership with SriLankan Airlines and to be part of its growth as an important hub for flights to Asia.” SriLankan Airlines CEO Kapila Chandrasena considers fleet renewal as a key component in the national carrier’s initiatives to reduce costs and improve efficiencies. The gradual phase-out over the next two years of its older wide body aircraft which are to be replaced by new the A330-300s and A350s is a step in that direction. He said: “SriLankan aims to gradually improve revenues and yields as we go for re-fleeting. Our product enhancements and membership in oneworld would contribute to these efforts. Our fleet renewal and route expansions are constantly aligned with the commitment to support the country’s rapidly growing tourism industry whilst keeping in mind the financial requirements of the airline.” He added: “We are further able to meet our future capacity requirements with the delivery of the new generation A350-900 wide body aircraft. Moreover, the operational commonality of Airbus aircraft permits airlines to use the same pool of pilots, engineering personnel and cabin crews bringing about operational flexibility, accruing significant cost savings.” The new A330-300 (registration 4R-ALL) is to be utilised on the major Far East markets of Tokyo and Guangzhou in China with four flights per week to each destination by this December. Significantly, the seven A330-300 aircraft on order will have the promotional slogan ‘Visit Sri Lanka’ emblazoned on its belly to promote the destination and airline in overseas tourism markets conveying a tactical message to visit ‘Sri Lanka on SriLankan’. Affording optimum levels of comfort in the aircraft cabin, the airline will configure its layout seating 297 passengers in two classes accommodating 28 in Business Class and 269 in Economy. The new A330-300 boasts of state- of-the- art cabin features that will redefine the flying experience for passengers in both Business class and Economy class on SriLankan Airlines. The aircraft introduces outstanding innovations in inflight entertainment (IFE) systems with Thales Avant Audio-Video on Demand (AVOD) and ambient lighting across both cabins, connectivity features and ultra comfort in seating. In Business Class plush individual herringbone designed flat-bed seats, mood lighting that can simulate the sunset and sunrise, night sky (star lighting), direct aisle access for every passenger, access to individual PC power sockets and Wi-Fi connectivity offers the discerning business traveller privacy combined with the comfort and luxury essential to help them relax and unwind on a long journey. Travellers in Economy class too could now enjoy a similar range of comforts that include in-seat with audio-video on demand, access to PC power socket at seat, Wi-Fi connectivity and mood lighting, coupled with the traditional warmth and hospitality of SriLankan Airlines’ renowned Inflight service, adding to a truly memorable experience.