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SriLankan Airlines’ new plan to be like Emirates

Written by Alain St.Ange

In a bid to turn the loss making airline into a profitable venture, SriLankan Airlines has come up with a five-year strategic plan. Part of the plan will see them emulating industry leader Emirates, with a new hub and spoke network model.

In a statement SriLankan Airlines said:

“SriLankan Airlines has formulated a new five-year Strategic Business Plan for the period 2019-24 with the objective of transforming itself into a financially viable organization airline group with high brand visibility and a global reputation for excellence,”

They went on to say that the national carrier had an ‘enormous contribution’ to make to the GDP of Sri Lanka, including import, export and tourism.

What is SriLankan Airlines planning?

Their latest five year strategic business plan includes major development of the Colombo hub to make it a key connecting point for a variety of markets. SriLankan are targeting passengers connecting through Africa, Asia and the Middle East, in a bid to grow as big as rival airline Emirates.

As a member of Oneworld, SriLankan are hoping to leverage their membership to develop their network for the future. In contrast to their current point to point model, they plan to work on more of a hub and spoke model to develop new opportunities.

The plan is to be presented to the Government of Sri Lanka for approval shortly.

New routes and fleet

Currently, SriLankan Airlines operate with a fleet of 27 Airbus aircraft. Specifically, these are 13 A320 family aircraft and 14 A330s. As part of the five year plan, the carrier intends to select new fleet inclusions which match the requirement of their developing route network. They have also said they want to reconfigure their existing fleet to offer an enhanced business class service.

Already, the airline has announced a fifth weekly service between Colombo and Tokyo from July onwards, using its Airbus A330-300s. If the plan is formalized by the government, we expect to see many more new route announcements over the coming weeks.

As well as routes and fleet, the plan specifies that it will:

  • Enhance the customer experience by improving customer-centricity throughout the airline
  • Adopt best practices to improve productivity
  • Grow online sales to reach a wider market in a more cost effective manner
  • Improve employee engagement
  • Implement a competitive cost structure through a greater cost consciousness throughout the company

The plan is being headed up by Group Chief Executive Officer Vipula Gunatilleka, who was appointed to the airline in mid-2018. Prior to joining SriLankan, Gunatilleka was a board member and CFO of TAAG Angola. There, he worked closely with Emirates while they were managing TAAG, so no doubt knows his hub and spoke business very well already.

A loss-making airline

The airline is undergoing a major shakeup with a view to turning a profit. Over the last nine months, the carrier’s net loss more than doubled to a total loss of $135m. It is hoped that the five year strategic plan being tabled today will transform the airline by 2024.


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About the author

Alain St.Ange

Alain St Ange has been working in the tourism business since 2009. He was appointed as the Director of Marketing for Seychelles by President and Minister of Tourism James Michel.

He was appointed as the Director of Marketing for Seychelles by President and Minister of Tourism James Michel. After one year of

After one year of service, he was promoted to the position of CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board.

In 2012 the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands regional Organization was formed and St Ange was appointed as the first president of the organization.

In a 2012 cabinet re-shuffle, St Ange was appointed as Minister of Tourism and Culture which he resigned on 28 December 2016 in order to pursue a candidacy as Secretary General of the World Tourism Organisation.

At the UNWTO General Assembly in Chengdu in China, a person who was being sought after for the “Speakers Circuit” for tourism and sustainable development was Alain St.Ange.

St.Ange is the former Seychelles Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine who left office in December last year to run for the position of Secretary General of the UNWTO. When his candidature or document of endorsement was withdrawn by his country just a day before the elections in Madrid, Alain St.Ange showed his greatness as a speaker when he addressed the UNWTO gathering with grace, passion, and style.

His moving speech was recorded as the one on the best marking speeches at this UN international body.

African countries often remember his Uganda address for the East Africa Tourism Platform when he was a guest of honor.

As former Tourism Minister, St.Ange was a regular and popular speaker and was often seen addressing forums and conferences on behalf of his country. His ability to speak ‘off the cuff’ was always seen as a rare ability. He often said he speaks from the heart.

In Seychelles he is remembered for a marking address at the official opening of the island’s Carnaval International de Victoria when he reiterated the words of John Lennon famous song… ” you may say I am a dreamer, but I am not the only one. One day you will all join us and the world will be better as one”. The world press contingent gathered in Seychelles on the day ran with the words by St.Ange which made headlines everywhere.

St.Ange delivered the keynote address for the “Tourism & Business Conference in Canada”

Seychelles is a good example for sustainable tourism. This is therefore not surprising to see Alain St.Ange being sought after as a speaker on the international circuit.

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