Nicholas Ionides / Singapore

SriLankan Airlines is expanding international services and launching its first domestic flights after finalising a major fleet expansion plan.

Seven new aircraft are joining its fleet of eleven, including two Airbus A340-300s which arrived in October. Two A320s will be added "soon", says the airline, in which Emirates holds a 43% stake. SriLankan is adding two float-equipped Cessna Caravan amphibious aircraft this month, and recently acquired a second Antonov An-12 freighter. The additional aircraft will increase the carrier's fleet to 18 - five A340s, four A330s, five A320s, two An-12Fs and two Cessna Caravans.

"We have identified sectors that we already operate to which have the best potential for growth and are increasing our services accordingly," says chief executive Peter Hill.

The A340s will mainly be operated on routes to Europe and east Asia, while the A320s will be used within south Asia - both on existing routes as well as on new routes. "This enhancement is consequent to the recent liberalisation of the bilateral air services agreement between India and Sri Lanka," says the airline.

The second An-12F will be used to boost services within south Asia, as well as allow SriLankan Cargo to launch services to Bangkok in Thailand. The first An-12F serves points in India, Pakistan and the Maldives.

The Cessna Caravan floatplanes will be used to launch air taxi services within Sri Lanka, initially from Colombo to Koggala, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya and Dambulla, using inland waterways as landing strips.

Source: Flight International