As it posted a first-half net loss trimmed by 11.6% year-on-year to USD76 million, SriLankan Airlines (UL, Colombo Int'l) said in a statement posted on its website that it was forging ahead with its turnaround plan.

The airline said it would expand its presence in the Australian market with a new route to Sydney Kingsford Smith in 2020, launch a new service to Ho Chi Minh City, and continue to plot a return to Frankfurt Int'l and Paris CDG.

The cut in losses was achieved despite an overall decline in passenger and cargo revenue following the Easter Sunday terror attacks. However, revenue in the second half of the year "is projected to increase significantly with the enhancement in operations by SriLankan and customer airlines", the carrier said.

The decline in revenue was offset by a greater reduction in operating expenditure due to cost-saving initiatives, as it relocated its corporate offices in Colombo to existing space in Katunayake, the site of Colombo Int'l Airport. Negotiations with state banks to reduce interest rates are ongoing, the airline added, and consultations continue with its major shareholder, the Sri Lankan Ministry of Finance, to seek withholding tax exemptions.

The Sri Lankan government said in August that it planned to sell a 49% stake in the flag carrier and would try to attract foreign investors by assuming some of its legacy debt.

SriLankan also reported in its statement "a noteworthy improvement in fuel performance" of its neo aircraft. The carrier currently possesses two A320-200neo and four A321-200neo among its fleet of 27 aircraft, which also include five A320-200ceo and two A321-200ceo, seven A330-200s and seven A330-300s.