- It says scheduled flights are likely to be affected from the 1st to the 18th of this month
- The airline plans to maintain most of its long-haul flights with “maintenance stops” along the routes
- Planning to ferry special A330 aircraft for fuel from India to deliver part of the requirements
By Nichelle Fernando
Operating on a zero-fuel schedule as the country’s jet fuel reserves are depleted, national carrier SriLankan Airlines is bracing for potential flight cancellations until the 18th of this month.
In an internal memo to its employees last week, Sri Lanka’s management announced that the airline ran out of available jet fuel stocks on June 29 and as a result scheduled flights are likely to be affected from the 1st to the 18th of this month.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on June 28 issued a notice advising airlines to carry fuel for their return journeys as the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) was unable to import the required jet fuel into the country due to the foreign exchange crisis.
SriLankan’s daily fuel consumption from Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) is around 700,000 litres. Until last week, SriLankan was able to provide approximately 250,000 liters on average per day. As this was not enough to meet the requirement, the airline took measures to introduce ‘maintenance’ on certain routes to reduce lifting from Colombo while incurring additional costs.
Airports in southern India, such as Cochin, have become a popular refueling stop for SriLankan and other airlines flying from Sri Lanka.
Since June 29, six flights operated by SriLankan to Sharjah, London Heathrow and Frankfurt, two flights operated by Air Arabia to Abu Dhabi and one flight operated by Jazeera Airways to Kuwait have used the technical facility to land in Cochin.
SriLankan plans to maintain most of its long-haul flights with these “technical stops” en route.
As a solution to the jet fuel shortage, the government allowed bunker license holders to import and supply jet fuel immediately, ending CPC’s monopoly on the jet fuel trade.
However, SriLankan noted that it will take more than two weeks to see the first deliveries of jet fuel from private sector importers.
“…GOSL is negotiating with private parties to import jet fuel to have uninterrupted supply in future. As this will take more than 2 weeks from now, we will be forced to operate on a zero-fuel schedule in the coming days,” the note said.
In addition, SriLankan also plans to transport jet fuel from India on a dedicated A330 aircraft.
“Also, we plan to fly special A330 fuel aircraft from India to meet some of the requirements. The fuel will be loaded onto these aircraft and ferried to Colombo to be depleted and used on other aircraft to meet the revised schedule,” the memo said.
The loss-making and heavily indebted airline has stressed it needs to operate as many flights as possible this summer to ensure its survival.