SriLankan's entry into the Oneworld alliance is likely to take place around end-2013 or early 2014, around six months later than expected.
The airline announced in June 2012 that it plans to join Oneworld and it had planned to complete the process by mid-2013, but IT issues mean that this will now be delayed by a few months.
The airline has had to upgrade its reservations system in order to integrate it with the other Oneworld members as its old system is "not compatible with the requirements", its chief executive Kapila Chandrasena said on the sidelines of a ceremony to mark Malaysia Airlines' entry into the alliance.
After a global tender for a new reservations system, SriLankan is "going to go with" the offer made by Amadeus and it will begin the process of moving its IT and reservations systems to the new platform. This, however, will take some time and a more realistic timeframe for entry into Oneworld will be around end-2013 or early 2014, adds Chandrasena.
The airline, however, is already beginning to work more closely with Oneworld alliance members and is trying to establish partnerships, including codeshare agreements.
"There have been some discussions and within the next few months, we should be able to come to an agreement on some codeshares," says Chandrasena.
He adds that working closely with Oneworld airlines like the UK's British Airways, Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific, Australia's Qantas Airways, Japan Airlines and Russia's S7 will provide access to markets where there is a strong Sri Lankan diaspora. These are also markets where there is growing demand for leisure travel into Sri Lanka, he says.