oneworld member SriLankan Airlines is big in India and growing in China; London Heathrow is still #1 route for ASKs

SriLankan Airlines

SriLankan Airlines’ most recent route launch was to Kunming in China on 1 December, which it serves non-stop with thrice-weekly flights. The airline also serves Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai with scheduled services. For Chinese New Year, there will also be a handful of charter flights to Chengdu.

Sri Lanka’s national carrier SriLankan Airlines joined the oneworld alliance on 1 May 2014. This was a big step for the relatively small carrier, which serves around 30 international destinations from its base in Colombo with a fleet of 21 Airbus aircraft. The airline has benefited from the improved political and social situation in the country and passenger numbers soared by over 65% between 2010 and 2013. The average network load factor across the year has also been steadily rising, passing 75% for the first time in 2003 and then 80% in 2013.

Chart - SriLankan Airlines 2000-2014* Annual passengers (millions) and passenger load factor

Source: SriLankan Airlines annual reports. *Year-ending 31 March each year.

Heathrow #1 for ASKs, India for weekly flights

With its current fleet of eight A320s, seven A330s and six A340s, SriLankan offers a network of routes to Europe (dark green), the Middle East (pale green) and within Asia (bright green). If measured by ASKs (Available Seat Kilometres), which takes into account sector length and the size of aircraft, the airline’s biggest route by some distance is its nine times weekly service to London Heathrow. This route accounts for twice as many ASKs as the airline’s next biggest route to Frankfurt.

Chart - SriLankan Airlines Top 15 routes Weekly departing ASKs (millions) from Colombo (Weekly departing flights from Colombo in December 2014)

Source: Innovata / Diio Mi for w/c 8 December 2014.

Notably absent from this list of destinations are any of the airline’s routes to nearby India. However, out of 249 departures this week from Colombo, 76 will be to destinations in India, representing almost one-third of the airline’s weekly flights. These are spread across several destinations: Bengaluru, Delhi, Mumbai and Thiruvananthapuram are each served with daily flights, Kochi and Tiruchirappalli both get served twice-daily, while Chennai is connected with 20 weekly flights. The 36 weekly flights to Male in the Maldives and the 19 weekly flights to Singapore rank those two countries second and third for SriLankan services.

Expanding in China

The airline’s most recent new destination is Kunming in China, which SriLankan has been serving with thrice-weekly flights since 1 December. A year ago SriLankan served both Beijing and Shanghai via Bangkok, but since the beginning of the summer there are now two weekly non-stop services to both destinations. In addition there are two weekly flights to both of these destinations via Hambantota, while Guangzhou is served four times weekly via Bangkok in both directions.

SriLankan Airlines officially joined the oneworld alliance on 1 May 2014. The event was celebrated at a major event at Colombo Airport along with representatives of all the other oneworld alliance member airlines. Just two new destinations were added to the oneworld network; Hambantota in Sri Lanka and Tiruchirappalli in India.


  1. Jon says:

    Hi, minor correction – I think BLR is served 11 times a week by UL.

Comments are closed