The Sri Lankan government has approved two contracts for SriLankan Airlines (UL, Colombo International) to lease a total of four aircraft. The decision, made during a meeting on April 1 and subsequently published on the government's website, involves a financial commitment of almost USD122 million over an eight-year term.

"The Cabinet of Ministers granted approval to the resolution furnished by the Minister of Ports, Shipping, and Aviation Services, to award the contract of obtaining four widebody aircraft on a monitoring lease facility along with an additional aircraft," the minutes of the meeting said.

Specifically, two aircraft will be leased from ORIX Aviation for a period of six years at USD360,000 per month per aircraft - a total of USD51.84 million over the lease's lifespan. Another two aircraft will be leased from Aergo Capital for eight years at USD365,000 per month per aircraft - a total commitment of USD70.08 million. The minutes did not specify the aircraft type, but speaking to local outlets after the decision was made public, SriLankan Airlines Chairman Ashok Pathirage said they were A330s and that he hoped to have them flying for the carrier by the end of the year.

"Prior to Covid-19, SriLankan Airlines operated 27 aircraft, but the fleet has since been reduced to 17. The plan is to get ten new aircraft, but, given the situation, at least six," he said.

The 17 aircraft factor in nine out-of-service planes in the fleet, which are currently grounded for assorted reasons including Pratt & Whitney engine issues, general maintenance, and lessor returns. The operational fleet includes four A320-200s (including one wet-leased from FitsAir (8D, Colombo International)), one A320-200N, one A321-200N, four A330-200s (including two wet-leased from Air Belgium (KF, Brussels Charleroi)), and seven A330-300s.

ch-aviation fleets data shows that the Air Belgium A330s are at SriLankan until January and May 2026, respectively, while two of the dry leased A330-300s are due back to their lessors in 2026 and the remaining five during 2027. SriLankan CEO Richard Nuttall has previously spoken of the looming end-lease dates and the pressure that has put on the airline to acquire replacements.

ch-aviation understands SriLankan Airlines has signed letters of intent for two of the A330s but is unsure if the other two are still available.

The Sri Lankan government has begun partially privatising SriLankan Airlines, although the process is still at the prequalification stage, with the initial expression of interest deadline extended numerous times. The current deadline for prospective buyers to submit their expressions of interest is April 22, 2024.