SriLankan Airlines grounds five aircraft due to lack of funds – By Darshana Sanjeewa Balasuriya

SriLankan Airlines grounds five aircraft due to lack of funds – By Darshana Sanjeewa Balasuriya

Source : dailymirror

 

  • SriLankan Airlines is facing a USD 1.2 billion debt, and outgoings such as interest and lease payments eat into any possible profit margins

Five aircraft from the Sri Lankan Airlines fleet have been grounded for several months due to lack of funds to pay for engine repairs, according to the Civil Aviation Authority.  

SriLankan Airlines currently has an all-Airbus fleet of 24 modern, sophisticated aircraft which includes twelve A330 (long haul) and twelve A320/A321 aircraft (medium haul). Out of those, the airline has 19 in-service aircraft. The airline flies to 39 destinations in 21 countries.  

An official told Daily Mirror that SriLankan Airlines were forced to ground five A320 aircraft due to lack of engines.   

They include an A321-200N registered as 4R-ANF an A320-200N registered as 4R-ANA, an A321-251N registered as 4R-ANB and three Airbus A321neo registered as 4R-AND, 4R-ANE and 4R-ANF.  

The official said that the aircraft have been grounded for several months as SriLankan Airlines lacked funds to fix the engines.   
Meanwhile, SriLankan Airlines Independent Workers’ Union alleged that the national airline was facing huge losses as a result of the grounding these aircraft.   
“We are compelled to cut back on profitable flights due to a shortage of aircraft. Compounding the issue, the lease payment on these grounded aircraft amounts to USD 350,000 to USD 400,000,” Union’s Chairman Janaka Wijayapathirathna said.  

Civil Aviation Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva also said in Parliament recently that SriLankan Airlines was facing a USD 1.2 billion debt, and outgoings such as interest and lease payments ate into any possible profit margins.  
SriLankan Airlines filed a disclosure saying that it would default on a past-due interest payment relating to USD 175 million worth of government-guaranteed bonds after a grace period expired.  

Earlier, the cabinet had green lighted the divestiture of seven state-owned enterprises (SOEs) including SriLankan Airlines.  

The Union’s Chairman said that the Government should draw up a proper business plan for the national carrier to save it from rack and ruin.   
“There is an ongoing debate about privatizing the airline, but if this situation continues there won’t be an airline left to privatize,” he said.  

Earlier, SriLankan Airlines CEO Richard Nuttall said that aircraft were grounded as a result of a combination of issues including reliability problems with the new technology CFM International Leap engines, the grounding of aircraft during Covid, payment issues coming out of Covid, and the 2022 financial meltdown in Sri Lanka.  

“At the moment we have payment plans agreed upon that have been operating for several months. Now the challenge is the availability of engines and slots at overhaul facilities. This is an industry challenge affecting many airlines,” he said.  

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