SriLankan Airlines (UL, Colombo Int'l) will finally retrofit one of its seven A330-200s, 4R-ALS (msn 1008), in order to standardize its cabin in line with the rest of the carrier's A330-200 longhaul fleet, The Sunday Morning newspaper has reported.

"The seats have been ordered for the refurbishment of the cabin and we expect the seats to arrive in about four to five months. Once the seats arrive, we will immediately refurbish and fit the necessary seats, and then it will be operational for long-haul flights," Chief Executive Officer Vipula Gunatilleka said.

He added that the retrofit is expected to take place within the next six months.

SriLankan leased the 10.8-year-old widebody from AerCap in 2017 as a settlement in lieu of the cancellation of an order for four new A350-900s. However, as it is configured with 288 economy class seats (against the 251-256 on the other five A330-200s operated by the airline) and 42 business class seats (against 18 on the other aircraft), its usage has always been cumbersome for the airline.

"The former government agreed to unacceptable conditions when they cancelled the A350-900 deal and a condition of the deal was for us to pay a lump sum as well as to take over this aircraft. But it was taken over without the approval of the Engineering Department," Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation Prasanna Ranatunga said.

SriLankan Airlines sub-leased the aircraft to Hi Fly (5K, Beja) but took it back in October 2018. It was finally deployed into revenue service in mid-February 2019. However, due to its configuration, it has been used predominantly on regional and medium-haul services, primarily to Malé in the Maldives, India, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf, including Umrah flights to Jeddah. Flightradar24 ADS-B data shows the aircraft had often been grounded for extended periods during the year of operations for SriLankan.

According to the ch-aviation fleets advanced module, the aircraft's utilisation averaged just 2 hours 14 minutes per day between January and September 2019.

Besides the six A330-200s, SriLankan Airlines also operates five A320-200s, two A320-200neo, two A321-200s, four A321-200neo, and seven A330-300s.