SriLankan Airlines focuses expansion on North Asia as it prepares to join oneworld

SriLankan Airlines is planning to focus expansion on existing and new markets in Asia ahead of the carrier’s ascension into the oneworld alliance. SriLankan is now on course to formally become oneworld’s smallest member in Nov-2013.

The government-owned carrier is currently focused heavily on South Asia, which accounts for 41% of its international seat capacity. SriLankan’s network in South Asia, particularly India and the Maldives, is its main draw to oneworld. But North Asia is SriLankan’s target growth market, with more capacity to greater China and the likely launch of flights to South Korea. SriLankan’s North Asia expansion could be boosted by a relationship with Cathay Pacific, which is sponsoring SriLankan’s membership into oneworld.

SriLankan’s North Asian network currently includes the three largest cities in mainland China – Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai – as well as Hong Kong and Tokyo Narita. Only Tokyo is served non-stop from SriLankan’s Colombo hub while the other four cities are all served via Bangkok.

Northeast Asia currently accounts for 7% of the carrier’s seats, compared to 41% to South Asia, 22% to Southeast Asia (includes the first leg of flights to greater China), 19% to the Middle East and 12% to Europe. But SriLankan CEO Kapila Chandrasena says “the Far East is where our growth is”.

SriLankan international capacity (weekly seats) by region: 25-Feb-2013 to 03-Mar-2013

Source: CAPA – Centre for Aviation & Innovata

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