SriLankan Airlines is targeting a return to profit by 2015 and believes joining Oneworld is a push in the right direction.

Being part of an alliance will allow it to grow its network and customer base, strengthen its financial position, and also place it on the global aviation map, says its chief executive Kapila Chandrasena in Beijing.

"Oneworld has a gap in the geographic regions where SriLankan is very strong, such as Southeast Asia, Maldives and south India. We believe we could bridge that gap," he adds.

The carrier plans to start codeshare agreements with most of the Oneworld members once it gets onboard, to grow its network, and increase its earnings and connectivity.

This year, it wants to increase its presence in Asia, cut loss-making routes to Europe and attract more business travellers.

Its target is to have a daily service on each existing route - with a focus on increasing the frequency of services to India and China - and also to start a service to Seoul. It will also rationalise its European operations, first by suspending flights to Milan and Zurich in July and September respectively.

By this year, it will finish upgrading the front end of its widebody cabins by installing lie-flat business class seats.

SriLankan has added seven aircraft - four Airbus A320s, two A330s and an A340 over the last year. It is now in talks with Airbus and Boeing for six A330s or Boeing 777s. This will be an interim order while it studies its options for new generation jets such as the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787.

This is supported by a progressive $500 million equity infusion from the local government, as part of a five-year strategy to return the carrier to profitability.

"Sri Lanka has gone through war and we just saw peace three years ago, so there are lots of opportunities. The country has the right environment and significant potential," says Chandrasena, who was appointed chief executive in July last year to turn the carrier around.

"It's been a challenging year. The target this year is to really look at increasing operation profits. We need to get the right passenger mix and being part of Oneworld will support this," he adds.

"Oneworld has a gap in the geographic regions where SriLankan is very strong"

Kapila Chandrasena

chief executive, SriLankan Airlines

Source: Flight Daily News