SriLankan Airlines has been a staple of commercial aviation in Sri Lanka since its inception 43 years ago. It was founded on September 1, 1979, and the airline’s greatest achievements are frequently intertwined with Sri Lanka’s own aviation and tourism milestones.
SriLankan’s contribution to the Sri Lankan economy as the country’s flag carrier cannot be overstated. The airline has served as the ultimate link between Sri Lanka and the rest of the world. SriLankan currently operates an all-Airbus fleet of 24 aircraft, connecting Sri Lankans to 119 cities in 60 countries across six continents via direct and codeshare flights.
Furthermore, SriLankan Airlines is the only airline that operates direct flights between Colombo and several global power cities, including London, Paris, Frankfurt, Melbourne, Sydney, and Tokyo, allowing socioeconomic ties with these markets to be established.
SriLankan has also been instrumental in introducing Sri Lanka and its spectacular heritage to discerning international travellers. For nearly 50 years, SriLankan has helped bridge distances, position Sri Lanka as one of the most desired vacation destinations, and connect millions of passengers to Colombo, Southern India, and the Maldives with convenient connections.
SriLankan Airlines transports over 95% of passengers transiting through Bandaranaike International Airport, and it is the most frequently booked airline for flights to Sri Lanka.
The evidence is in the numbers. SriLankan has served over 89 million passenger journeys for both domestic and international passengers between 1979 and now, a figure that is four times the population of Sri Lanka. The airline is undeniably a significant foreign currency earner for Sri Lanka, with over 85% of its revenue generated in foreign currency from international markets.
SriLankan Airlines has also fueled economic activity throughout the supply chain of Sri Lanka’s travel and tourism industry. This includes creating jobs and, albeit indirectly, supporting the livelihoods of thousands of people employed in the sector. As a result, it is estimated that SriLankan Airlines contributes significantly to Sri Lanka’s gross domestic product.
Aside from passenger services, the airline’s strategic business units, such as SriLankan Cargo and SriLankan Engineering, have all gradually contributed to the organisation and the country.
Reflecting on the airline’s significance to the country, SriLankan Airlines Chairman Ashok Pathirage stated, “For the past four decades, we have been flag bearers of the nation through thick and thin.” SriLankan Airlines has not only survived each difficult chapter that the country has had to navigate, but has also worked to help the country get back on its feet.
SriLankan has always been a pillar of strength to the nation, from sustaining travel and trade links between Sri Lanka and the rest of the world as other airlines cut back on flights to Sri Lanka due to the country’s ongoing economic crisis to bringing stranded Sri Lankans home during the recent pandemic.
The resilience of our legacy is really the resilience of our people, and I’d like to thank every SriLankan Airlines employee for their dedication and commitment that has seen us through difficult times. “