SriLankan Airlines (UL, Colombo Int'l) may finally have found a strategic partner in the form of a Japanese consortium made up of ANA - All Nippon Airways (NH, Tokyo Haneda) and JAL - Japan Airlines (JL, Tokyo Haneda), the Asia Mirror reports. Citing informed government sources, the news site says that the Japanese carriers are working with local business tycoon Harry Jayawardena and are in the lead to secure the deal.

The government has been searching for strategic investors to buy into the troubled airline for some time. A recent tender managed to attract significant interest from investors around the world only for the preferred bidder, US-based investment firm Texas Pacific Group (TPG), to withdraw citing the airline's difficult financial position.

Whether or not the Japanese investment goes ahead, the Sri Lankan government has committed to a restructuring plan. Public Enterprise Development Minister, Kabir Hashim, told the Mirror Business that a committee will need to provide the Prime Minister with an internal restructuring plan.

"What we are basically asking the board to do is to let us know how we are going to cut losses, how we're going to rationalize the fleet, and how we're going to reconfigure aircraft," he said.

SriLankan's operational losses widened to LKR28.14 billion (USD183.5 million) in 2016 from LKR12.62 billion (USD82 million) in 2015 although this has been attributed to its absorption of loss-making low-fare airline, Mihin Lanka (MJ, Colombo Int'l). SriLankan's operational losses for the first four months of 2017 are said to stand at LKR9.52 billion (USD62 million).