Chairman of Sri Lankan Airlines, Ashok Pathirage in a recent interview with CNBC International TV stated that passenger numbers might not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2022 but believes that the numbers will improve by November 2021 to 60% of pre-pandemic levels.

Adding that the airline like any other airline is suffering due to the impacts of the pandemic, with revenues down 70%.

However, the chairman stated that the airline has other initiatives like cargo and repatriation flights that should see the airline reach 60% of pre-pandemic turnover by November 2021.

Sri Lankan Cargo network (as at 22 Jan 2021)

Sri Lankan Cargo route map

Source: Sri Lankan Airlines

Further adding that Sri Lankan Airlines has focused on cargo during this period. The airline has expanded its scheduled cargo network to 26 markets in 20 countries.

When questioned about the possibility of Travel bubbles, the chairman mentioned that “UK is a no go”, due to the situation in the UK with the pandemic and this applies to Europe as well.

Prior to the pandemic India was the biggest tourist market followed by China, with the chairman stating that hopes are still on with finalizing a travel bubble with India and talks have also been taking place with China.

The airline has also recently been awarded Platinum status for the APEX Health and Safety Audit with APEX CEO, Dr. Joe stating that “SriLankan Airlines’ incredible steps for COVID-19 customer safety have placed the airline as the highest-ranked in all of South Asia,” further adding that “SriLankan’s expansive customer-focused wellness work, both on-the-ground and in-the-air, surpass the gold-standard for customer safety and definitively met the standards for a Platinum-certified airline.”

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