- Says scheduled flight operations likely to be impacted from 1st to 18th of this month
- The airline plans to maintain most of its long-haul flights with ‘tech stops’ on routes
- Planning on ferrying dedicated A330 aircraft to tanker fuel from India to supply part of requirement
By Nishel Fernando
Operating on a zero-fuel schedule as the country’s jet fuel reserves have run out, the national carrier SriLankan Airlines is bracing for potential flight cancellations until 18th of this month.
Issuing an internal memo to its employees last week, SriLankan management announced that the airline ran out of available jet fuel stocks on June 29th, and as a result scheduled flight operations are likely to be impacted from 1st to 18th of this month.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on June 28th issued a notice advising airlines to carry fuel for their return journeys as the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) has had failed to import required jet fuel into the country due to the foreign exchange crisis.
The daily fuel usage of SriLankan out of Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) is around 700,000 litres. Until last week, SriLankan managed to secure approximately 250,000 litres per day on average. Since this was insufficient to meet the requirement, the airline took measures to introduce ‘tech stops’ on certain routes to reduce the uplift from Colombo while incurring additional costs.
South Indian airports such as Cochin have become a popular fuel stop for SriLankan and other airlines flying out of Sri Lanka.
Since June 29, six flights operated by SriLankan bound to Sharjah, London Heathrow and Frankfurt, two flights operated by Air Arabia to Abu Dhabi and one flight operated by Jazeera Airways bound to Kuwait used the technical landing facility at Cochin.
SriLankan plans to maintain most of its long-haul flights with these ‘tech stops’ on routes.
As a solution to the jet fuel shortage, the government has allowed bunker license holders to import and supply jet fuel on an immediate basis ending CPC’s monopoly in jet fuel trade.
However, SriLankan noted that it would take over two weeks to see first jet fuel shipments from private sector importers.
“….the GOSL is negotiating with private entities to import jet fuel in order to have a continuous supply in the future. As this will take more than 2 weeks from now, we will be compelled to operate a zero fuel schedule in the coming days,” the memo read.
In addition, SriLankan also plans to ferry jet fuel from India with a dedicated A330 aircraft in place.
“Additionally, we are planning on ferrying dedicated A330 aircraft to tanker fuel from India in order to supply part of the requirement. Fuel will be uplifted in these aircraft and be ferried to Colombo to be de-fueled and used on other aircraft to run an amended schedule,” the memo stated.
The loss-making and heavily indebted airline stressed that it needs to operate as many flights as possible this summer in order to ensure its survival.