SriLankan Airlines in the red

LOSSES at SriLankan Airlines are expected to rise sharply this year, and the country’s national carrier intends to reduce flights to London and divert most of them to China, beginning April.

The state-owned airline is also considering leasing some of its 13 slots at London’s Heathrow airport to recoup part of its losses, the Colombo-based Sunday Times reported last week.

Losses for the year ending March 31, 2012 are expected to exceed the budgeted loss of Rs8.3 billion (about US$70 million), the paper quoted chairman Nishantha Wickremesinghe as saying. He explained that much of it was due to high fuel prices – 60 per cent of the airline’s operational costs are spent on fuel.

Fuel prices rose by as much as 49 per cent in Sri Lanka last week on a range of products, triggering countrywide protests.

Although the airline had increased flights to India, South-east Asia and Europe in recent months, Wickremesinghe said this did not lead to a jump in revenue, due to the financial crisis in Europe.

An airline official could not be reached by TTG Asia e-Daily at press time.

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