“We will help positioning Colombo as the new gateway of South Asia” said Kapila Chandrasena to TravelDailyNews.
TravelDailyNews : Could you tell about the benefits for SriLankan of joining the global alliance oneworld?
Kapila Chandrasena : It is a honour to be the first carrier from the Indian sub-continent to join a prestigious alliance such as oneworld. It was also a challenge. As the preferred alliance from world travellers, high standard services are of utmost importance. We worked then very hard to achieve all the criteria set by the alliance to be sure that we would be fully compatible with oneworld standards. Such as transferring our IT platform to Amadeus, the most used by oneworld airlines. We now also expect increased synergies in the future with all oneworld partners. While we bring two new destinations to oneworld– Hambantota and Tiruchirapalli- we now have access to a global network covering some 1,000 destinations.
TDN : Why joining a global alliance?
K.C.: It is part of our five-year development plan which comprises increasing our revenues by 25%, controlling costs, expanding and modernising our fleet, expanding our presence in the world and benchmarking our services to global level.
TDN : What are the first concrete measures since joining oneworld?
K.C.: We are strengthening our relations with oneworld members. For example, we just signed a code share agreement with Finnair and Russian S7. From this week, S7 code will be added to flights operated by SriLankan from Colombo to Moscow Domodedovo and Bangkok while SriLankan will have its code on six additional Russian destinations.From 2 June, it will be the turn of Finnair.
They will code share on our flights to Bangkok, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, London, Paris and Rome, while we will be placed on connecting Finnair services in Helsinki to seven European cities. We also introduced with our oneworld partners a new value air pass covering travel within the Indian Sub-Continent offering between three and eight sectors across SriLankan’s network covering our home country as well as India, Pakistan and the Maldives. Finally, we now offer the compatibility of frequent flyers programs and all oneworld benefits to our top frequent flyers.
TDN : Are they any financial benefits to be expected by joining oneworld?
K.C.: I think we will reach a balance. We probably will contribute to 25 to 30 million in additional revenues towards other oneworld members while getting a similar amount from our partners.
TDN : Will you strengthen Colombo as a new air gateway for the alliance?
K.C.: We will help positioning Colombo as the new gateway of South Asia and forecast to see our transfer passengers traffic increasing from slightly over 40% to 50% thanks to synergies with other oneworld carriers. While we hope more oneworld partners will fly to Sri Lanka with the development of tourism, we are also looking to add new destinations and we currently study the economic profitability of adding destinations such as Kathmandu, Yangon in Myanmar but also destinations in Cambodia and Vietnam. We are also looking at the opportunity to add more flights to Europe and fly to Australia. But it will not occur before we get our new aircraft from the end of the year. We ordered 13 aircraft Airbus A330-300 and Airbus A350 to be delivered until 2017.
TDN : How is your positioning towards India?
K.C.: We are a major player for South India and will continue to increase our presence on the Indian market according to demand. This is generally our strategy on a regional scale. We are working closely with Minh Lankan, our hybrid airline offering simplified services to link Colombo to new destinations. Minh Lankan recently opened routes to Dhaka, Jakarta and Medan and added more frequencies to India and the Gulf. We are now introducing a premium economy class for Minh Lankan to make the airline fully compatible with oneworld standards, especially for Premium passengers.