Sri Lankan plans to lease ‘45-tonne’ freighter

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SriLankan Airlines plans to make the most of overcapacity in the sector by leasing a freighter to tackle its own ‘big time’ capacity problems, reports Michael Mackey.

SriLankan is looking for ‘a 45 tonner’ Chamara Ranasinghe, head of cargo tells Air Cargo Week adding that a converted Boeing 747 would be “too big.”

The Colombo-based carrier already has a converted MD82 as well as twenty two passenger aircraft to help it move goods but is looking to add one more freighter to help it move larger loads, Ranasinghe adds. This could be soon and could lead to other freighters being acquired.

“Induction of the freighters is the timeline,” he says, adding that it was “pushing for something before November”.

“What we are trying to do is have two or three freighters and regional uplift and connectivity,” said Ranasinghe. The precedents he pointed to was what TNT Express does in Europe and Turkish Airlines general approach only Sri Lankan aims to do it “for the Indian subcontinent,” he adds.

Currently SriLankan uses its MD82 to supplement the capacity it gets from its twelve narrowbody passenger aircraft which serve the Asian market and is looking to repeat that.

Another reason for focusing on the region is money. Endebted SriLankan is giving up two of its three European routes, Paris and Frankfurt, to concentrate on its own economic hinterland –  as part of an ongoing restructuring.

“Our future is going to rely around China, Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh. Basically around ASEAN the Far East and the Indian subcontinent.

“This is where we want to monopolise if we can. We believe we are located in a good place,” Ranasinghe explains.