It was widely reported recently that SriLankan Airlines (IATA: UL ), presently an all AIrbus carrier, is considering the Boeing 777 as its A340-300 replacement. The airline may place an order for 777s and will lease some used 777s till the fresh aircraft are delivered.
In my opinion, the carrier should lease a few Boeing 777-200ERs in the short term ( see my other article for a descriptive analysis on this - and a must read to understand the full context of this article ). And purely out of route networking and utilization enthusiasm, I have a created a fully fledged route network plan for SriLankan incorporating these changes.
SriLankan present fleet
5 - A340-300 ( 6 - by April )
4- A320 ( 6 - by May)
I have created the following flight schedule for a hypothetical May 2011, by when SriLankan fleet should look like following ( as per this schedule)
5 - A320
My aim with the new schedule was not just to show how could SriLankan integrate the 777s to its schedule, but also to maximize the utilization of the fleet. It took me almost two weeks to fully analyse, understand and re-build the whole route network from the scratch and I kept a keen eye on maximizing the traffic flows and the revenue potential, while still keeping a safe degree of operational freedom and reliability.
I made new rotation plans for the whole fleet and developed a brand new flying programme for all the fleet types. I have added two new routes ( three, with the already announced Kochi service ) and added new flights to the presently small afternoon bank, which has a very good potential for growth. In the end despite all the new flights and increases, I was able to stave off the requirement for one A340-300 making only four A340s required for the whole schedule. The schedule could still be completed with three A340s, with slight adjustments, however I opted to go for a fourth frame for establishing more stability.
I have opted for the most economical deployment of capacity while retaining a high utilization rate. The 4R-ALG, SriLankan's only A330 with flat beds, has been utilized on premium routes with high yield.
The afternoon hub bank was expanded, and new flights were added to enhance connectivity and the potential for transit traffic.
While my main goal was to integrate the 777s and demonstrate the increased utilization, I have also focused on optimizing all the traffic flows while still keeping an optimal operational freedom; and achieving this triumvirate was no easy task. In the end I was able to satisfy all the measures, however at the cost of two regional frequencies and alternate route timings. Although these measures will not have a serious effect on the airline, in a low yielding environment like the Indian Sub-continent, it must be mentioned that should the airline wish, these frequencies could still be re-instated using widebody aircraft.
While going through the schedule, what I found - much to surprise - was how well SriLankan's fleet was utilized, and the schedule was prepared, compared to most of their regional peers. The whole flying programme was so well utilized and built in the most efficient way possible, that I found myself in a situation not having anything left to optimize! Much congratulations to SriLankan's Schedules Planning department for a job done, exceptionally well.
It must be mentioned that the schedule prepared here solely serves as an example only and is in no way meant to discredit or insult the hard work done by SriLankan Airlines.
Have a look, and please let me know your opinion.
As mentioned before, I have strengthened the afternoon European arrivals bank and maximized connectivity to the airline's South East Asia network, thus paving way for a more optimal transit traffic potential. This will give the airline a strong foundation to make best use of its large future A320 fleet and make the airline more effective against competition.
Male - To further strengthen the connectivity for airline's afternoon arrivals bank, I have added a new flight, UL109, to the Maldives - departing CMB daily at 1420. By making more effective use of wide body aircraft, I have reduced the frequencies of a midnight flight which did not contribute to any hub bank. To make a same-plane flight more familiar, I have re-numbered the Saturday (present) UL109 to UL1455.
Cochin - Flights re-timed to optimize connectivity
Doha - Since the introduction of Qatar Airways 3rd daily flight into Colombo, UL has seen a decrease in loads to DOH. To overcome this, I have switched the service to all A320s. While I wanted to initiate a daily service, capacity constraints forced in limiting the service to six times weekly, as otherwise it would have meant adding an A320 solely to cater for a single roundtrip. A morning flight has been added on two days to capture more traffic from India and South Asia, and of course to interconnect with Qatar's own arrivals flow - hence UL may capture more connecting traffic.
Saudi Arabia - SriLankan at presently enjoys a very good demand for all of its Saudi Arabian destinations, however the carrier is restricted in terms of available frequencies to the Kingdom. Hence all of the airline's Saudi Arabian flights have been upgraded to A340 equipment, as has already been planned for S11.
Singapore & Kuala Lumpur - UL316 red-eye flight's capacity ( and if justified, frequencies - see the 777-200ER Utilization section below ) increased while adding a new ( economics wise experimental ) A320 operated weekly flight to better optimize the network connectivity.
London - The key topic of this article, Boeing 777, has been utilized on the airline's flagship route. And to provide a standard product, I decided to use the aircraft on the afternoon Colombo departure which has a standardly timed Heathrow slot. To achieve this, the flights to London via Male had to be moved in to the morning departures. In order to enhance the latter service's connectivity, I have changed the slots of Monday and Thursday flights to more favorable timings, which were carefully selected from actually available S11 LHR slots. This will not have a serious effect at all, as the airline has just received seven extra rights to the UK, of which at least three are likely to be utilized via London Gatwick.
The afternoon flight, UL503, is to be operated six times a week with one of the flights operated on-board 4R-ALG, the A330 with flatbeds. ( This is because a daily service with common timings could not be established using just two 777s. ) The service on Sunday will operate via Male in order to capture the returning holiday-makers' traffic from Male to London.
Purely for aesthetic reasons, I have replaced the newly added flight number UL511/2 with UL515/6 as the former flight number pair was bore on an aircraft that was the target of terrorists in 1986, causing civilian fatalities.
Frankfurt - Overall frequency has been increased to five times weekly using a mix of A330s and A340s. The flights have been re-timed to increase connectivity while also catering to capturing more holiday-makers.
Rome & Milan - New evening flight added on Monday evening to fit with the flow of Tuesday's European arrivals.
Paris - One of the three weekly flights switched to an evening flight, not only to optimize the evening bank, but also to reduce the outstation layover in a more productive manner.
The afternoon European arrivals are now on Tuesday and Saturday.
I have added to this schedule, SriLankan's highly awaited flight to Moscow via Dubai. While I initially considered creating the flight with either a Male or Mumbai stopover, in the end I decided that Dubai fulfills most of the requirements better than the other two choices, even with increased competition. Nevertheless, the Colombo ETA and ETD for all three intermediate stops are identical, thus leaving the airline the choice to operate the flight via any of the preffered stops. The service will operate four times a week with two of the services on board the 777s, one on board the A330 with flat beds and another on board an A340.
I have also added a new regional service to Coimbatore, India. My initial choice for the new service was Hyderabad, however I later realized that there was virtually no O&D traffic between HYD and Sri Lanka and that the lack of competition will prove Coimbatore a better choice. The new service is scheduled to operate only three times a week, hence the airline has the freedom to scrap the service, should it wishes, without a hurt on the utilization levels.
In my opinion, one of the most characteristic things about this schedule is that it provides an infinite possibility to upgrade or downgrade capacity by very easily interchanging equipment types.
Have a look, and please point to any mistakes I have made. I am always open to hearing your ideas on how could this be further improved.
FLIGHT SCHEDULE (All times local. D=Daily. 32Y= A320 All Y, 33J=A330 with flatbeds, type stated only where necessary, 772-777-200ER)
Flt. N Routing Timing ( Hub ETD-Dest ETA-Dest ETD- Hub ETA ) Days of op Equipment
UL101/2 CMB-MLE-CMB 0715-0810-0930-1125 D 320
UL103/4 CMB-MLE-CMB 1830-1925-2025-2220 1 340 // 2357 320
UL105/6 CMB-MLE-CMB 0100-0155-0245-0440 x5 32Y
UL107/8 CMB-MLE-CMB 2330-0025-0125-0320+1 1235 320
UL109/110 CMB-MLE-CMB 1420-1515-1615-1810 1357 320 // 2 340 // 7 772
UL111/2 CMB-MLE-CMB 0030-0130-0250-0445 5 772
UL1455/6 CMB-MLE-CMB 1950-2045-2145-2340 6 340
UL121/2 CMB-MAA-CMB 0725-0845-1030-1150 1235 332 // 3 772 // 67 320
UL123/4 CMB-MAA-CMB 1830-1950-2115-2235 16 332 // 23457 32Y
UL127/8 CMB-MAA-CMB 1350-1510-1600-1720 5 32Y
UL131/2 CMB-TRZ-CMB 0700-0800-0850-0950 D 32Y
UL133/4 CMB-TRZ-CMB 1300-1400-1450-1550 124 32Y
UL141/2 CMB-BOM-CMB 0001-0220-0320-0545 D 320
UL145/6 CMB-BOM-CMB 1220-1440-1535-1755 4 320
UL145/6 CMB-BOM-CMB 1600-1820-1940-2200 67 320
UL161/2 CMB-TRV-CMB 0745-0845-0945-1045 D 320
UL165/6 CMB-COK-CMB 0115-0235-0335-0435 1 320 // 5 32Y
UL165/6 CMB-COK-CMB 0725-0845-0935-1055 3 320
UL165/6 CMB-COK-CMB 1325-1445-1535-1655 246 320 // 7 32Y
UL171/2 CMB-BLR-CMB 0735-0900-1000-1120 12 320
UL171/2 CMB-BLR-CMB 1350-1515-1605-1730 3 32Y // 4 320
UL171/2 CMB-BLR-CMB 0155-0325-0425-0545 5 32Y // 6 320
UL183/4 CMB-KHI-CMB 1405-1725-1815-2230 12357 320
UL195/6 CMB-DEL-CMB 1440-1815-1905-2240 D 320
UL205/6 CMB-MCT-CMB 1905-2150-2250-0445+1 14 320
UL207/8 CMB-AUH-CMB 1850-2205-2300-0500+1 1246 320
UL211/2 CMB-AUH-CMB O425-0730-0825-1430 357 320
UL215/6 CMB-BAH-CMB 1805-2030-2130-0550+1 357 320
UL217/8 CMB-DOH-CMB 1900-2120-2220-0540+1 3456 320
UL219/220 CMB-DOH-CMB 0005-0225-0325-1045 12 320
UL227/8 CMB-DXB-KWI-DXB-CMB 1325-1625-1725-1800-1910-2145-2245-0445+1 D 332
UL263/4 CMB-DMM-CMB 1810-2045-2155-0535+1 247 343
UL265/6 CMB-RUH-CMB 1820-2115-2215-0615+1 13 343
UL281/2 CMB-JED-CMB 1510-1850-2000-0430+1 24 343
UL312/3 CMB-KUL-SIN-CMB 0701-1300-1400-1455-1600-1720 1237 332 // 356 343
UL316/7 CMB-SIN-KUL-CMB 2340-0600+!-0705+1-0801+!-0900+!-1000+1 134 332 // 5(6*) 772
UL318/9 CMB-KUL-SIN-CMB 1401-1955-2040-2135-2225-2350 2 320
UL422/3 CMB-BKK-HKG-BKK-CMB 0720-1220-1320-1710-1820-2010-2110-2255 14 332 // 6 343
UL454/5 CMB-NRT-CMB 2340-1150+1-1320+!-1850+1 5 343
UL460/1 CMB-NRT-MLE-CMB 2340-1150+1-1320+1-1935+1-2035+1-2230+1 3 772 // 7 343
UL501/2 CMB-LHR-MLE-CMB 0200-0900-1040-0115+1-0215+1-0410+1 6 332
UL503/4 CMB-LHR-CMB 1315-2015-2145-1300+1 x47 772 // 4 33J
UL505/6 CMB-LHR-CMB 0850-1605-1815-0930+1 3 343
UL505/6 CMB-LHR-CMB 0335-1035-1150-0320+1 5 343
UL505/6 CMB-LHR-CMB 0200-0900-1040-0155+1 7 343
UL507/8 CMB-MLE-LHR-CMB 0410-0505-0605-1305-1500-0615+1 2 343
UL509/10 CMB-MLE-LHR-MLE-CMB 0005-0100-0200-0900-1040-0115+1-0215+1-0410+1 14 343
UL515/6 CMB-MLE-LHR-CMB 1120-1215-1315-2015-2145-1300+1 7 772
UL553/4 CMB-FRA-CMB 0001-0640-1505-0440+1 367 332
UL557/8 CMB-FRA-CMB 1350-2050-2235-1200+1 15 343
UL563/4 CMB-CDG-CMB 0125-0900-1500-0500+1 37 343
UL565/6 CMB-CDG-CMB 1305-2040-2200-1200+1 5 343
UL571/2 CMB-MXP-FCO-CMB 0030-0730-0845-0955-1120-0005+1 357 332
UL573/4 CMB-MXP-FCO-CMB 1305-2005-2120-2230-2350-1240+1 1 33J
UL575/6 CMB-DME-DXB-CMB 1430-2155-2315-0415+1-0515+1-1105+1 2 332 // 7 772
UL577/8 CMB-DXB-DME-CMB 1430-1730-1830-2335-0105+1-1105+1 1 772 // 5 332
UL882/3 CMB-BKK-CAN-BKK-CMB 0701-1210-1310-1725-1840-2010-2110-2220 3 343 // 5 772 // 7 332
UL886/7 CMB-BKK-PVG-BKK-CMB 0125-0625-0725-1245-1415-1740-1855-2045 1246 332
UL888/9 CMB-BKK-PEK-BKK-CMB 0125-0625-0725-1310-1430-1835-1935-2125 35 332 // 7 343
Boeing 777-200ER aircraft utilization
The operational flying programme has been built with high utilization as well as operational freedom in mind. The longest sector the aircraft will operate ( 11:30h ) will be to London while the shortest will be to Chennai ( 1:20h ). Some shorter sections have been added to the schedule with pilot and crew training in mind. The Saturday UL316 is an additional flight and can be removed if the airline wishes to do so and could be added if operational stability is sufficient.
( Rotation plans available on request )
Total 772 fleet - 2 frames
Total weekly utilization - 12880 mins ( 13375 mins with 316 day 6 )
Average daily utilization - 15.33h per frame ( 15.92h with 316 day 6 )
I'd be very glad to hear your comments.