Hyderabad, Aug 21 (PTI) The debt-ridden SriLankan Airlines expects its operations to turn profitable this fiscal on the back of a buoyed aviation market post-COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Richard Nuttall, Chief Executive Officer of SriLankan Airlines Ltd, the firm’s total debt currently stands at over USD 1 billion and the country’s Finance Ministry is working to find solutions to reduce the debt which would result into the reduction of 30 per cent and also significant savings are already in the pipeline.
“Last year was breakeven (operations). I think this year we should have quite a healthy profit. We need it. I mean, we are still paying for debt,” Nuttall told PTI.
He further said one of the challenges that the airline had last year was the high interest rates witnessed globally, forcing it to shell out 10 per cent of its revenues towards servicing the debt, which is unsustainable in the airline industry.
Nuttall said SriLankan Airlines, which is running tight with respect to manpower, needs 50 to 60 pilots by the end of the year and another 30 early next year.
“We have enough people for the operations, but it is tight and we are looking into what we can do to retain people and what we can do to recruit more,” he explained.
On the fleet size and additions, he said currently the firm has 23 aircraft, compared to 27 before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Sri Lankan national carrier has plans to get back to 27 aircraft by the middle of next year (A330-14, A320-13).
“As an airline, we have a five-year plan to take the fleet to up to 35 to 40 aircraft,” he said.
The official said the airline aims to double its frequency from the current levels of 90 flights per week in India in the next two to three years.
“We used to fly to 11 cities earlier , but (there are) nine at the moment, but I think within two or three years the plan would be to double the number of frequencies and make sure that all the major cities are serving twice a day,” he said.
Noting that tourism directly or indirectly supports two million people in Sri Lanka, he said the recent political and economic developments cast a negative shadow on the island nation’s image internationally due to adverse publicity.
He, however, said the country was stable and witnessed over 800,000 tourists during the first seven months of the current year with the majority from India.
(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from Syndicated News feed, LatestLY Staff may not have modified or edited the content body)