SriLankan Airlines insists it has sufficient amount of pilots

SriLankan Airlines insists it has sufficient amount of pilots to meet its operational requirements of a reduced fleet.

Issuing a statement, SriLankan Airlines said that it has been managing with a reduced fleet of 15 as opposed to the intended 18 aircraft over the last two months, which has impacted the airline’s flight schedule and on-time performance.

“The good news is that this situation is expected to ease off by mid-July 2023,” the airline said.

Earlier, the pilots of SriLankan Airlines had said in a statement that the Airline requires at least 330 Pilots to function in full capacity for the designated flights, adding that however, over 70 Pilots have resigned from the Airline in the last year with many more resignations pending due to the issues faced by the pilots.

SriLankan had forecasted an aircraft shortage factoring in scheduled lease expirations, but the actual shortage was worsened by several unforeseen events,” SriLankan Airlines said in a statement.

The airline said that this includes the prolonged time being taken to complete annual ‘C’ checks on two SriLankan Airlines’ aircraft due to the unavailability of components locally and the ongoing short supply of engines for Airbus A320neo aircraft in the global marketplace, the latter of which has caused 350 aircraft to be grounded worldwide. The airline also had had to delay the procurement process for new leases, due last year, in view of the country’s economic situation.

The two aircraft undergoing ‘C’ checks will finally return to operations next week. The month of July will bring more positive change in the way of a short-term lease extension for an aircraft that was supposed to be returned, four replacement engines  for Airbus A320 neo aircraft on ground and the arrival of a newly leased Airbus A330, all of which would bump the SriLankan Airlines’ fleet to about 20 aircraft, SriLankan Airlines said.

On the subject of technical crew numbers, SriLankan Airlines said that 57 pilot resignations have been recorded from early 2021 to now including some early retirements, and a few more exits can be anticipated.

“Prior to the pandemic, SriLankan Airlines employed 320 pilots for a fleet of 27 aircraft. The airline has 257 pilots at present, a number sufficient to meet its operational requirements of a reduced fleet and keep average crew flying hours well within global standards. SriLankan Airlines has only cancelled a small number of flights to date including the widely reported flight to South Korea due to the sudden unavailability of scheduled crew and replacements,” SriLankan Airlines said.

SriLankan Airlines said that it is aware that it must increase the technical crew numbers in line with the planned expansion of its fleet. The airline said that is already training new cadet pilots, and in the process of hiring pilots, having advertised both locally and internationally.  (Colombo Gazette)

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