Citing growing cargo volumes and the potential for greater demand, especially within the Indian subcontinent and China, SriLankan Airlines says it is considering wide-body freighter leases as it adopts a new focus on cargo.
The move is part of SriLankan Airlines recently unveiled, five-year Strategic Business Plan for the period 2019-24, which the carrier hopes will usher in a new era of financial solvency.
The carrier says the objective is one of “transforming itself into a financially viable airline group with high brand visibility and a global reputation for excellence, while turning Sri Lanka into a strategic hub for air travel and air cargo in the Asia-Africa-Middle East region,” says Vipula Gunatilleka, SriLankan Airlines CEO.
Increasing the ancillary revenue from the Group’s sub business units and subsidiaries is also a priority the carrier says in a statement. This includes SriLankan Cargo which has been tasked to introduce “innovative cargo products to boost yield, and the use of freighter operations to support cargo carriage on the SriLankan fleet”.
“Today we see over USD 3.0 trillion of e-commerce business is going out of China. We are looking at taking a slice of this business through a separate cargo aircraft on a lease,” Chamara Ranasinghe, head of SriLankan Airlines’ Cargo told LBO.
SriLankan Cargo handles the belly capacity of the carrier’s passenger fleet of 27 aircraft – 13 A320 family aircraft and 14 A330s which operate to 101 destinations in 47 countries. The carrier also has orders for four A350-900s. The cargo division is also the only cargo handler for all airlines operating to Sri Lanka’s Bandaranayake International Airport (CMB).
Aside from looking at the route network and fleet, the carrier will put an emphasis on digital transformation and technology adoption to transform processes across the airline
The carrier is also looking to develop SriLankan Engineering into a maintenance-repair-overhaul (MRO) organisation of choice; exploring opportunities to expand SriLankan Ground Handling to serve regional airports; and upgrading the SriLankan Aviation College to university status together with the addition of several more international affiliations.