Civil Aviation sector records positive growth in 2017 | Sunday Observer

Civil Aviation sector records positive growth in 2017

PIC: LAKE HOUSE MEDIA LIBRARY
PIC: LAKE HOUSE MEDIA LIBRARY

The civil aviation sector, a vital cog in the economy recorded a positive growth in both passenger and cargo handling last year, the Annual Report of the Central Bank (CB) states.

The passenger movement at the BIA notched a 5% growth to 9.8 million compared to 9.3 million in the previous year while cargo handling grew by 4.7 percent to 265,786 MT compared to 2016.

However, the number of aircraft movement increased only marginally by 0.3 % to 64,903 during 2017 . This was due to the closure of the runway for eight hours per day for the overlaying work from the first week of January to the first week of April.

The temporary closure of the BIA resulted in more aircraft movement at the Mattala International Airport. It increased by 6.9 percent to 978 during the year compared to 915 in 2016.Passenger handling including transit passengers of the Mattala Airport too increased to 30,051 passengers during the year from 5,750 in 2016.

According to the CB, 31 airlines operated international flights to and from Sri Lanka during the year. The domestic passenger movements which are catered by six local airline companies decreased by 20 percent to 24, 597 compared to 30,741 in 2016. This according to the bank is due to the absence of scheduled airlines services at reasonable price levels covering the island wide route network.

However, Sri Lankan Airlines continued it loss making streak last year as well recording an operational loss of Rs. 13.7 billion in 2017 compared to the loss of Rs. 10.4 billion in the previous year. Statistics reveal that despite an increase in revenue by 12.3 percent to Rs. 148 billion operating expenditure increased by 13.7 percent to Rs. 161.7 billion.

The losses according to the Central Bank is primarily due to poor load factor on certain uneconomical routes. Therefore, the airline plans to increase frequencies to New Delhi, Hyderabad and Lahore while slashing frequencies to Seychelles, Male and Gan Islands and discontinuing flights to Kunming, China this year.

However, the airline has made a strategic move by commencing daily flights to Melbourne from October 29 last year.

The fleet composition of SLA comprised 13 wide body and 14 narrow body aircraft by end last year which is the largest fleet to-date, the bank’s data states.

Further the sea capacity operated by the national carrier registered a 7% increase during the year.

In it’s attempt to revive the ailing airline the policy makers sought the consultancy services of a lead consultant to conduct an independent assessment of the airline’s current business model and form a private public partnership to turn around the airline.

Meanwhile, several infrastructure developments in the aviation sector took place during the year such as the re-laying of the single runway at a cost of Rs. 7.2 billion fulfilling a long felt need which now enables the runway to accommodate the landing of large aircraft such as the A380. The automatic dependence surveillance –B project was completed at a cost of Rs. 200 million while most of the refurbishment work was in progress last year.

The Airport and Aviation Services Sri Lanka is planning to build two airport hotels in proximity to BIA and invest in an aeronautical information management system to keep pace with advanced technology on aircraft safety.

Blurb

Several infrastructure developments in the aviation sector took place during the year such as the re-laying of the single runway at a cost of Rs. 7.2 billion fulfilling a long felt need which now enables the runway to accommodate the landing of large aircraft such as the A380. 

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