SriLankan Airlines spruces up Biz Class as demand takes off

Thursday, 28 July 2011 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

SriLankan Airlines is focusing on enhancing the luxuries enjoyed by high-end passengers as demand for its Business Class cabins intensifies.

Nishantha Wickremasinghe, Chairman of SriLankan Airlines, said: “Sri Lanka is being positioned as a destination of choice among global tourists and SriLankan Airlines is attracting many more passengers who prefer to pay the premium rate for the luxury of Business Class. We are therefore increasing our focus on Business Class to provide our passengers with the best value for money.”

The Government of Sri Lanka is implementing a policy of attracting high end tourists, and recently raised minimum rates among certain categories of hotels.

The airline is about to transform and enlarge the Business Class cabins in its A330 and A340 wide-body aircraft. The upgrading of comforts includes the installation of Flat Bed Seating and the most sophisticated Audio-Video-On-Demand (AVOD) entertainment systems. By the end of 2011, each A330 will have 18 Business Class seats, and each A340 will have 24.

“While we are also adding value to our Economy Class cabins, the demand for Business Class will mean that some of the privileges enjoyed by Economy Class passengers in terms of involuntary upgrading will be suspended. All airlines earn a significant amount of revenue from their Business Class cabins, and some devote as much as 40% of their seating to Business Class,” said Wickremasinghe.

“We intend to increase our revenue from the front end of the aircraft. We have decided that Business Class seats will be provided only to passengers with fully paid Business Class tickets and members of our customer loyalty programme FlySmiLes who qualify for upgrading. All our country managers and airport managers have been instructed to follow this policy,” said the airline’s Chairman.

Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is booming following the end of the country’s internal conflict in 2009. The island nation set a new record in tourist arrivals in 2010 of 654,000 visitors, an increase of an extraordinary 46%. This trend has continued in the first half of 2011 with a similar increase in arrivals. Its largest markets of origin are India, UK, Germany, Maldives, Australia, France, Canada, United States, Netherlands and Japan.

SriLankan currently has a global route network of 51 destinations in 32 countries, which will soon be increased with the launch of new services to Moscow in September and Zurich in December. The airline is also adding seat capacity by increasing frequencies to many destinations including those in China and Europe.