Male’, Maldives, 19th April 2022 – Sri Lanka’s national airline announces a profitable fourth quarter (Q4) for the first time in 16 years by the end of the financial year in 31 March 2022. It recorded a group net profit of USD 1.7 million in spite of the challenges it faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was able to achieve this remarkable feat of financial turnaround through various measures taken during the previous year, such as scaling down staff costs and overheads; renegotiating supplier contracts; increasing cargo revenue, and following an ambitious growth plan to capitalise on pent-up travel demand. The airline’s initiatives were evidently successful as it was able to make its first monthly profit since the onset of COVID-19 in December 2021, and continued to make profit into the final quarter. Over the last 4 months, SriLankan Airlines has accumulated profits of over USD 12 million due to increased travel with the relaxation of pandemic regulations and reopening of more borders.
Ashok Pathirage, Chairman of SriLankan Airlines stated, “I am pleased to note that we ended 2021-22 on a high note, given our first quarterly profit in many years. The passenger demand remained strong, and revenues continued to recover from the setbacks of the pandemic during the quarter. Our annual expenditure remained within expectations. I am thankful to all our valued employees for contributing towards this achievement.”
The airline launched flights to new destinations through its expansion initiative within the last year, including Seoul, Moscow, Kathmandu and Paris. It continued to gradually increase flight frequencies in line with the recovery of the global travel industry and demand. Additionally, it carried out major campaigns to boost tourism to Sri Lanka, including initiatives to India, roadshows supporting new routes and sponsoring the famous French annual adventure trail, Raid Amazones, last month.
As a result, the airline is back to the 75% of the passenger revenue it made prior to the pandemic in Q4 of 2019-20. In line with this, the number of passengers increased to nearly 700,000 for the quarter. SriLankan Airlines is making strong headway towards recovering its pre-pandemic levels as demand for international travel increases. It is also a net foreign currency earner for Sri Lanka owing to a substantial share of its revenue being generated from international markets.
Richard Nuttall, Acting Chief Executive Officer of SriLankan Airlines, shared his expectations for traffic to be recovered fully by the end of the year as travel restrictions continue to be eased off. However, they anticipate some headwinds during the first half of this financial year due rising fuel prices and a short-term dip in demand to the nation.
He said, “We have factored in these challenges and are working towards minimizing the impact with a strong business plan and a sound turnaround strategy to return to full-year profitability… We will continue to support the tourism industry of Sri Lanka and be a catalyst for economic recovery.”