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ROUTES: SriLankan in talks to add six 777s or A330s

SriLankan Airlines is looking to add six widebodies as part of a plan to double its fleet during the next five years, and is considering the Airbus A330-300 and the Boeing 777.

Speaking to Flightglobal's Airline Business Daily at the World Route Development Forum in Berlin, SriLankan's newly-appointed chief executive Kapila Chandrasena said the carrier wants to add "roughly six widebodies" to its fleet to replace its Airbus A340-300s, with deliveries beginning in 2014.

The airline is in talks with Airbus and Boeing but has yet to decide whether it will purchase or lease the aircraft. "We are looking at a possible blended approach, where we own 25% and lease 75%," said Chandrasena.

In the meantime, SriLankan is taking used A330s from lessors including Air Lease Corporation and International Lease Finance Corporation.

Under its turnaround strategy for the next five years, SriLankan aims to "roughly double" its fleet from 15 to 30 aircraft, said Chandrasena. Its fleet renewal will be partly funded by a $500 million equity infusion from the Sri Lankan government, which owns the airline.

SriLankan Airlines hopes its strategy of strengthening its regional network and capitalising on the tourism growth opportunities that have arisen since the end of Sri Lanka's civil war two years ago will see it return to profitability in 2013.

The airline is also keen to join an alliance "as soon as practicable", said Chandrasena.

"Oneworld and Star are preferred, if the opportunity exists, but we need to know more about SkyTeam to see if that could be a strategic fit," he added.

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