SriLankan Airlines is starting to re-build its operation by returning to service an Airbus A340 that had been damaged in July's rebel attack at Colombo airport that destroyed half its fleet.

The aircraft was one of six of the carrier's 12 Airbus aircraft damaged in the 24 July raid at Colombo's Bandaranaike International Airport. Four aircraft were damaged beyond repair - one A340-300, two A330-200s and one A320 - while one A340 and one A320 were damaged but are able to be repaired.

SriLankan says the damaged A340 will be returned to service on 1 September, allowing it to re-start suspended flights to Abu Dhabi, New Delhi and Paris.

The carrier says it is being forced to drop services to Frankfurt and Rome, however. It is seeking to keep the two European cities on its network by codesharing on flights operated by partner Emirates, which has a 40% stake in SriLankan and a management contract.

The July attack at Colombo airport by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam left SriLankan's operation in tatters and has led to a decline in tourist traffic to Sri Lanka. As a result the carrier says it is unlikely that it will replace any of the aircraft damaged beyond repair for at least a year.

Source: Flight International