SriLankan Airlines has been the fabric of commercial aviation in Sri Lanka since the dawn of the airline 43 years ago. It was launched on 1 September 1979, and the airline’s greatest accomplishments, are often intertwined with Sri Lanka’s own milestones in aviation and tourism.
SriLankan’s contribution to the economy of Sri Lanka as the country’s flag carrier cannot be understated. The airline has been the ultimate gateway between Sri Lanka and the world. With a current all-Airbus fleet of 24 aircraft, SriLankan has been connecting Sri Lankans to 119 cities in 60 countries across continents through direct and codeshare operations.
Moreover, SriLankan Airlines is the only airline to operate direct flights between Colombo and several global power cities including London; Paris; Frankfurt; Melbourne; Sydney; and Tokyo, enabling socio-economic ties with these markets.
SriLankan has also played a central role in introducing Sri Lanka and the country’s spectacular heritage to discerning international travellers. SriLankan has for nearly half a century helped bridge distances; position Sri Lanka as one of the most desired holiday destinations; and link millions of passengers to Colombo, Southern India and the Maldives with expedient connections. Over 95 per cent of passengers transiting via Bandaranaike International Airport are carried by SriLankan Airlines and SriLankan remains the most frequently booked airline to travel to Sri Lanka.
The proof is in the numbers. Between 1979 and now, SriLankan has served over 89 million passenger journeys for both local and foreign passengers – a number that is equal to the population of Sri Lanka, four times over. The airline is, unquestionably, a key foreign currency earner for Sri Lanka as over 85 per cent of its revenue is earned in foreign currency from international markets.
SriLankan Airlines has also powered economic activity across thes upply chain of the travel and tourism trade of Sri Lanka. This includes creating jobs and supporting the livelihoods, even if indirectly, for thousands employed in the sector. Consequently, it has been estimated that SriLankan Airlines makes a significant contribution to Sri Lanka’s gross domestic product.
Aside from passenger services, strategic business units of the airline such as SriLankan Cargo and SriLankan Engineering have all progressively contributed to the organization and country.
Reflecting on the significance of the airline to the country, Ashok Pathirage, Chairman of SriLankan Airlines stated, “For the past four decades, we have been flag bearers of the nation through thick and thin. SriLankan Airlines has not only prevailed through each challenging chapter that the country has had to navigate through, but endeavored to help the country back on its feet.
From sustaining travel and trade links between Sri Lanka and the world as other airlines cut back on flights to Sri Lanka due to the country’s ongoing economic crisis to bringing down stranded Sri Lankans home during the thick of the pandemic in the recent past, SriLankan has always been a pillar of strength to the nation.
The resilience of our legacy is really the resilience of our people, and I would like to thank every employee of SriLankan Airlines for their show of dedication and commitment that has seen us through difficult times.”