DALLAS – Today in Aviation, Air Lanka, the national carrier of Sri Lanka, was renamed SriLankan Airlines (UL) in 1999.
Speaking at the time, the carrier’s then Chief Executive, Peter Hill, said, “We want to upgrade the airline’s image and have managed to negotiate with the Sri Lankan government a large portfolio of traffic rights which we want to start using.”
New Name, New Look
The airline’s new livery was unveiled at a special ceremony in Colombo, marking the arrival of one of the carrier’s new Airbus A340 jets, flown in from Paris. Air Lanka’s original red peacock logo was replaced by a flying bird in red, orange, and green.
“The new logo emphasizes the Sri Lankan aspect of the airline,” Hill explained.
The move came after the government partially privatized the airline in 1998. The Emirates Group, the owner of Emirates Airline (EK), took a 40% shareholding worth US$70 million.
UL’s new owners planned to upgrade the carrier’s fleet and expand its network outside of Sri Lanka.
“The market into Sri Lanka is not enormous. We are going to look beyond Colombo city to the West, Middle East and South Asia,” Mr. Hill added.
Air Lanka was established on December 10, 1979, following the collapse of the country’s previous flag carrier, Air Ceylon (AE). Initially, it operated a fleet of two Boeing 707s and a single Boeing 737. The former was replaced with the arrival of the airline’s brand new Lockheed L1011 Tristar in 1982.
In 2010 the Sri Lankan Government brought back the shareholding from Emirates, which had increased to 43.63%. The United Arab Emirates company had announced in 2008 that it would not renew its management contract.
Featured Image: The new look first appeared on one of the carrier’s new Airbus A340s. Photo: SriLankan Airlines.