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SriLankan taps Skytrax for study as refurbishment plan progresses

SriLankan Airlines has contracted airline rating organization Skytrax to conduct a full audit of its customer experience, as the flag-carrier gears up to refurbish and re-fleet.

"The audit is in progress and will run for several months, as the Skytrax team travels on board SriLankan flights in all regions, and evaluates every aspect of customer service and our product," says SriLankan Airlines CEO Manoj Gunawardena.

"I'm proud to say that refurbishment and re-fleeting are on the cards in the near future, thus reflecting our vision to achieve a five-star status not in terms of size but quality onboard service."

Late last year, SriLankan announced its intent to begin a comprehensive long-haul fleet renewal. The carrier plans to replace its five ageing Airbus A340-300s with the same number and variant, sourcing them from lessors, with the aim of reducing fuel burn and introducing upgraded in-flight entertainment systems.

The first A340-300 is expected to be placed into service by the end of 2010, with the remaining four scheduled to arrive at around eight-monthly intervals for use on SriLankan's long-haul services to Japan, the UK, France and Germany.

In a statement today, SriLankan says it will begin its transformation with new uniforms for front line staff. Flight attendants' iconic Kandyan Saree uniform will still retain "its oriental charm" but have a distinctive modern appeal and contemporary look, says the carrier.

SriLankan's onboard kitchen "has turned an entirely new chapter" that includes offering a five-star meal to passengers whenever they wish to dine. Passengers will "have the added choice of ordering from a new a la carte menu", it says.

Also in the works is "a new experience" in in-flight entertainment, says the carrier, and SriLankan "will continue this journey of new discovery with more comfortable seats on board with more leg space and flat bed seats in the business class".

Further details are not immediately available.

"We've struggled to stay airborne during the past two years. In the process we didn't deliberately set out to do anything new and revolutionary. In fact we were often thought to have lost focus of our customers. With these wide ranging and sweeping changes we now reassure our thousands of customers that they certainly are our focus. We are changing their travel experience in a multi-dimensional manner and stretching the boundaries of hospitality," says Gunawardena.

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