SriLankan Airlines (UL, Colombo International) is seeking government approval to issue a tender for the lease of ten aircraft to replace outgoing planes and facilitate network growth. Speaking to media at the CAPA Asia Aviation Summit in Singapore last week, CEO Richard Nuttall said the aircraft were necessary to meet the carrier's short-term fleet needs.

Earlier this year, SriLankan Airlines issued an RFP for 42 aircraft that was split into four separate calls. Two of the calls dealt with current-generation narrowbody and widebody Airbus aircraft, while the other two were for new-generation regional and long-haul planes. The airline was later asked by Sri Lanka's Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) to delay any immediate leasing plans as that country's economic crisis deepened.

Late last month, Nuttall said he was open to partially or wholly privatising the airline as a means to generate capital to fund fleet growth. "We believe we should ideally be at least 50% bigger within three years to meet the needs of our current network and to deliver maximum efficiencies," he said.

In Singapore, neither Nuttall nor SriLankan chairman Ashok Pathirage would be drawn into naming exactly what type of aircraft they were after, with Pathirage saying all options were on the table. However, the executives did confirm that seven planes would be returned to lessors by the end of 2023 when their lease periods ended, suggesting a short-term net gain to SriLankan's fleet of just three aircraft.

ch-aviation data has identified five SriLankan Airlines A320-200s and four A330-200s due back to their owners by December 31, 2023. One A320-200 and three A330-200s have December 31, 2022, end lease dates. The fourth A330-200 is due back on January 10, 2023. The remaining A320-200s are variously due back on April 14, May 17, October 1, and November 29, 2023. The lessors include First Star Aviation, Carlyle Aviation Partners, Peregrine Aviation, AerCap, Air Lease Corporation, and Aircastle.