Sri Lankan Airlines

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In the heart of the Indian Ocean, a pearl-shaped island paradise known as Sri Lanka is home to a carrier that has truly spread its wings: Sri Lankan Airlines. Founded in 1979, Sri Lankan Airlines, formerly known as Air Lanka, has become a symbol of pride for the nation. This article explores the history, operations, achievements, and challenges of Sri Lankan Airlines, shedding light on its journey as it has soared to become a respected international airline.

Founding and Early Days

Sri Lankan Airlines traces its roots to the year 1979, when it was originally established as Air Lanka, following the collapse of its predecessor, Air Ceylon. The newly formed airline was envisioned to be the flag carrier of Sri Lanka, providing vital connections to various destinations across the globe.

The early years of Air Lanka were marked by its commitment to service excellence and island elegance. The airline’s maiden flight, an Avro 748, took off from Colombo, the capital city of Sri Lanka, to Bangkok, Thailand. This marked the beginning of an ambitious journey that would ultimately elevate the carrier to international prominence.

A National Pride: The Flag Carrier of Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan Airlines’ role as the flag carrier of Sri Lanka has not been limited to merely connecting the island nation to the world. The airline has been a source of national pride and has played a pivotal role in promoting the nation’s culture, hospitality, and natural beauty to travelers worldwide. The carrier’s livery has often featured vibrant and iconic motifs representing Sri Lankan culture.

Sri Lankan Airlines’ commitment to excellence and showcasing the rich heritage of the country has been instrumental in making it one of the most recognized airlines in South Asia.

Operational Framework

Sri Lankan Airlines operates with a comprehensive framework that encompasses various aspects of air travel:

  1. Fleet Composition: The airline’s modern fleet primarily comprises Airbus and Boeing aircraft, including the Airbus A320, A321, and A330, as well as the Boeing 777 and 787 Dreamliner. This diversified fleet enables it to serve both short-haul and long-haul routes efficiently.

  2. Global Network: Sri Lankan Airlines serves a vast network of destinations, spanning Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Oceania. Key hubs include Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport and Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport.

  3. Alliance Membership: The airline is a member of the oneworld alliance, providing passengers with enhanced connectivity and benefits, including codeshare agreements with other member airlines.

  4. Service Excellence: Sri Lankan Airlines is renowned for its exceptional in-flight service, reflecting the warm Sri Lankan hospitality. The airline takes pride in offering a glimpse of the island’s cultural richness on its flights.

  5. Cargo Services: The airline provides cargo services, contributing to trade and the movement of goods globally.

Challenges and Resilience

Sri Lankan Airlines’ journey has not been without its share of challenges. These challenges include:

  1. Conflict and Security Concerns: Sri Lanka endured a lengthy civil conflict that impacted the country’s stability and affected the airline’s operations, particularly during the war years. Ensuring safety for passengers and crew has been a top priority.

  2. Economic Downturn: Economic fluctuations and currency devaluation have had repercussions on the airline industry, impacting demand and profitability.

  3. Global Pandemic Impact: Like airlines around the world, Sri Lankan Airlines faced a severe setback due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to a sharp decline in demand, flight cancellations, and operational complexities.

  4. Competition: The airline operates in a highly competitive market with numerous carriers vying for passenger attention. Keeping a competitive edge requires ongoing innovation and quality services.

  5. Rising Fuel Costs: Fuel costs have been a significant concern for airlines. Managing and mitigating the impact of rising fuel prices on the airline’s operations is a continual challenge.

Despite these challenges, Sri Lankan Airlines has consistently demonstrated resilience, adapting to changing conditions and maintaining a commitment to offering quality air travel services.

Achievements and Impact

Sri Lankan Airlines’ journey has been marked by several noteworthy achievements and a significant impact on the aviation industry:

  1. Global Connectivity: The airline’s extensive network has connected travelers to various destinations, fostering economic growth, cultural exchange, and tourism.

  2. National and Regional Hub: The airline’s operations have transformed Colombo into a regional aviation hub, facilitating transfers and supporting economic development in Sri Lanka.

  3. Passenger and Cargo Services: Sri Lankan Airlines has been instrumental in facilitating passenger travel and cargo transportation, contributing to economic activity and regional trade.

  4. Cultural Exchange: The airline has actively promoted Sri Lankan culture, showcasing the nation’s rich heritage through its services and partnerships.

  5. Sustainable Practices: The airline has initiated several sustainability measures, including efficient aircraft operations and exploring alternative fuels, to reduce its environmental footprint.

  6. Safety Record: Sri Lankan Airlines has maintained a strong safety record, consistently adhering to international safety standards and regulations.

Future Prospects

As it looks ahead, Sri Lankan Airlines has several strategies and developments in mind:

  1. Fleet Modernization: The airline plans to modernize its fleet by incorporating new, fuel-efficient aircraft. This will improve operational efficiency and reduce its environmental impact.

  2. Network Expansion: Sri Lankan Airlines aims to expand its route network, connecting more cities across Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, enabling more people to access air travel.

  3. Sustainability Initiatives: The airline is exploring sustainability practices, such as the use of biofuels and more efficient aircraft, to reduce its environmental impact.

  4. Customer-Centric Approach: Sri Lankan Airlines will continue to prioritize passenger satisfaction and the overall customer experience, enhancing services to meet the needs of a diverse range of travelers.

  5. Post-Pandemic Recovery: The airline is committed to recovering from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, rebuilding passenger trust, and restoring operations to their pre-pandemic levels.


Sri Lankan Airlines, known for its elegance and commitment to service excellence, has become an integral part of the nation’s identity. From its early days as Air Lanka to its position as a respected international carrier, the airline’s journey has been marked by resilience, innovation, and dedication to promoting the rich culture and natural beauty of Sri Lanka.

As it faces challenges and navigates the uncertainties of the aviation industry, Sri Lankan Airlines remains dedicated to expanding its network, modernizing its fleet, and contributing to the economic development of Sri Lanka and the region. The airline’s vision, adaptability, and commitment to offering quality air travel ensure that it continues to soar, navigating the skies with island elegance.

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Baggage Policy

SriLankan Airlines has different baggage allowances depending on the class fare you purchased.

Carry-on Baggage

SriLankan Airlines carry-on baggage allowance is one piece of hand baggage for Economy Class passengers weighing no more than 7kg. Business and First Class passengers flying SriLankan Airlines are permitted two pieces of 7kg of hand baggage.

Free permitted carry-on items in addition to hand baggage include:

  • One laptop
  • One handbag or purse
  • One overcoat or blanket
  • One umbrella or walking stick
  • One small camera

Checked Baggage

Sri Lankan Airlines First and Business Class passengers are permitted one piece of checked baggage weighing no more than 40kg. SriLankan Airlines Economy class passengers are permitted one item weighing 30kg and infants 10kg. The maximum dimensions for checked baggage are 158 linear cm/ 62 in. For infants, bags must not be greater than 115cm/ 45in.

For routes to and from North, Central and South America, First and Business Class passengers are permitted two pieces of checked baggage weighing 32kg. Economy Class passengers are permitted two pieces weighing 23kg each. Infants are permitted one piece of checked baggage weighing 23kg.

Excess Baggage

Excess baggage fees with SriLankan Airlines depend on your route, departure time and fare type. You can add excess baggage to your trip when booking through Fastofly.

Cabin Classes

SriLankan Airlines officially has 2 cabin classes — Economy and Business Class.

Economy Class


SriLankan Airlines Economy class is where intricacy meets simplicity; the perfect combination for an enjoyable flying experience. Adjustable seats, mouth-watering cuisine with a choice of up to three main courses (on long haul flights), light snacks, teas, coffee and complimentary bar service including a range of wines, spirits and soft drinks, and an inflight entertainment with over 100 movies to choose from for all ages – these are the little luxuries that make pleasant travel memories for everyone on-board.


Enjoy comfortable and spacious seating with a good amount of legroom. The team will be on-hand to help.

Business Class

There’s no better way to fly than SriLankan’s Business Class. It’s an experience of comfort and sophistication, sealed with traditional Sri Lankan hospitality and warmth.


You can indulge in delicious meals prepared with extra care to please your palate, with a wide array of healthy options. Stay entertained with the state of the art Thales AVANT in-flight entertainment system which has the latest blockbusters from Hollywood to Bollywood, and a collection of classics and favourites. Business Class features 15.4-inch screens, with over 50 TV channels, 120 movies. Onboard you are offered an amenity kit to give you that little extra comfort of Business Class.

Prior to boarding: Your Business Class starts at the airport, where you receive priority check-in at the silk route and complimentary access to the Serendib Lounge.


Experience the highest levels of privacy and comfort, relaxing in bed that recline to full 180 degrees. You can enjoy individual storage space providing room for all your personal belongings and you’ll find more knee room and living space.

In-flight Entertainment & WIFI

SriLankan Airlines offers a number of in-flight entertainment options for you to browse through your flight journey.


Stay connected while you fly with in-flight WiFi onboard SriLankan Airlines. WiFi is currently only available to purchase on the A330-300 and A320/321 fleet. The cabin crew will notify you if your flight is equipped with WiFi.


SriLankan Airlines offers an online check-in service so you can check in before your flight departure time.

Online Check-in

Sri Lankan Airlines passengers can save time by checking in online. Online check-in is available from 24 hours prior to your flights departure and closes two hours prior.

Frequent Flyer Programme

SriLankan Airlines’ frequent flyer programme is called ‘FlySmiles’.


SriLankan Airlines operates a frequent flyer program called FlySmiles to reward to regular passengers. SriLankan Airlines is a member airline of the world’s leading airline alliance Oneworld. Oneworld is an alliance of the world’s leading airlines committed to providing the highest level of service and convenience to frequent international travellers. FlySmiles has 5 membership levels: Platinum, Gold, Classic, Silver and Blue. Members can also opt for the Baggage Bonus Programme offering exclusive additional luggage allowances.

Airline Alliance

SriLankan Airlines is part of the Oneworld Alliance which is a leading global airline network, with 15 member airlines. Some of SriLanka Airlines’ partner airlines include Cathay PacificFinnair, LATAM AirlinesMalaysiaQantasQatarIberiaBritish AirwaysAmerican Airlines and many others. Oneworld alliance covers more than a thousand destinations in 155 countries.

Destinations that SriLankan Airlines flies to

SriLankan Airlines flies to more than 100 destinations. This includes Melbourne, Dhaka, Frankfurt, Bangalore, Delhi, New York, Mumbai, Tokyo, Doha, Seoul, Colombo, Dubai, London and more.


Australia Melbourne Melbourne Airport
Australia Sydney Sydney Airport
Bahrain Manama Bahrain International Airport
Bangladesh Dhaka Shahjalal International Airport
China Beijing Beijing Capital International Airport
China Guangzhou Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport
China Shanghai Shanghai Pudong International Airport
Germany Frankfurt Frankfurt Airport
India Ahmedabad Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport
India Bangalore Kempegowda International Airport
India Chennai Chennai International Airport
India Coimbatore Coimbatore International Airport
India Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport
India Hyderabad Rajiv Gandhi International Airport
India Kochi Cochin International Airport
India Kolkata Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport
India Kozhikode Calicut International Airport
India Madurai Madurai International Airport
India Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport
India Thiruvananthapuram Trivandrum International Airport
India Tiruchirappalli Tiruchirappalli International Airport
Indonesia Jakarta Soekarno–Hatta International Airport
Japan Tokyo Narita International Airport
Kuwait Kuwait City Kuwait International Airport
Malaysia Kuala Lumpur Kuala Lumpur International Airport
Maldives Gan Gan International Airport
Maldives Malé Velana International Airport
Nepal Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport
Oman Muscat Muscat International Airport
Pakistan Karachi Jinnah International Airport
Pakistan Lahore Allama Iqbal International Airport
Qatar Doha Hamad International Airport
Saudi Arabia Dammam King Fahd International Airport
Saudi Arabia Jeddah King Abdulaziz International Airport
Saudi Arabia Riyadh King Khalid International Airport
Singapore Singapore Singapore Changi Airport
Seychelles Mahé Seychelles International Airport
Sri Lanka Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport
South Korea Seoul Incheon International Airport
Thailand Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport
United Arab Emirates Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi International Airport
United Arab Emirates Dubai Dubai International Airport
United Kingdom London London Heathrow International Airport
United States New York John F. Kennedy International Airport
United States Los Angeles Los Angeles International Airport
United States Miami Miami International Airport
United States Chicago Chicago O’hare International Airport

Hub Airport

Bandaranaike International Airport

SriLankan Airlines is based at Bandaranaike International Airport, which is the main international airport serving Sri Lanka. It is the hub airport for SriLankan Airlines. It has one runway and can handle nearly 8 million passengers every year. Other airlines which fly to and from this airport include Air Arabia, Air Asia X, Air Asia Sri Lanka, Air ChinaAir IndiaCathay PacificEmiratesKorean AirKuwait AirwaysMalaysia AirlinesOman Air, Qatar Airways and Saudia.

Hotels Near Bandaranaike International Airport




Airbus A330 and A350s were bought and they continued to have an all Airbus fleet. With the new aircraft, SriLankan airlines expect to have a growth in passenger count by 2017, as they seek to add new routes to their service and remove the less demanded ones.


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