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SriLankan Airlines takes measures to Cut Fuel Usage

Travel News Asia Latest Travel News Podcasts Thursday, 11 September 2008

SriLankan Airlines is focusing on sharply reducing its fuel usage to counter the challenge posed by high global oil prices. A series of fuel-saving measures has already been implemented, while more are to be put in place within weeks.

Mr S A Chandrasekera, the airlines Chief Financial Officer, said, The global airline industry is undergoing its biggest ever crisis due to the steep increases in the price of aviation fuel. Larger airlines are suffering losses and many smaller ones are going out of business. SriLankan is taking this challenge head on.

The price of a barrel of crude oil has surged 85% during the last 12 months, and reached a high of US$ 143 in July this year from last years US$ 75, although is now on a declining trend. SriLankan is projecting a fuel bill of US$ 500 million for the current year at present prices, which accounts for approximately 50% of its overall costs.

Fuel is our biggest cost factor by far. While we are significantly reducing costs throughout the airline, we know that even a small saving in the amount of fuel consumed on every flight will result in savings in hundreds of millions of rupees, said Mr. Chandrasekera.

SriLankan recently invited a team of experts in fuel efficiency from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), who conducted an in-depth study and recommended detailed measures. The airline has appointed a special committee to implement the proposals and enhance them wherever possible.

We are not satisfied with simply following IATAs recommendations. We have already added a large number of our own initiatives, and are tailoring the IATA suggestions to suit the requirements of our airline, said Captain Anushad Liyanagoda, who was recently appointed to the newly created post of Manager Aviation Fuel.

The airline has already come up with several imaginative methods to reduce fuel consumption, and is quantifying the amount of savings from every one of them. One of these is RNAV Approaches, where aircraft make continuous descent approaches into Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA). Discussions have been held with the Civil Aviation Authority and air traffic controllers to implement this programme, which would save 100-200 kilogrammes of fuel on every landing.

Another measure already implemented is to use diesel-powered Ground Power Units to supply power to internal systems and air-conditioning on all aircraft while they are parked at BIA, instead of using Auxiliary Power Units of the aircraft themselves, which use aviation fuel. This move is saving 130 200 kg of aviation fuel per hour.

Other initiatives include Flap 3 landings; single engine taxi between terminals and runways; minimised use of reverse thrust during landings; flying shorter routes whenever possible; and re-evaluation of the airlines choice of alternate airports. There is also a new Re-despatch Procedure, which is saving approx 1,200 kg of fuel on every flight from Europe to Colombo; and all flights are being closely monitored to obtain maximum usage of tail winds.

The airline is also recalculating the most efficient cruising speed for each flight; and new climb and cruise methods are being considered to optimise fuel burn. The cost of fuel at each destination is also a key factor, with a new study being undertaken on Tankering, where aircraft uplift more fuel from cheaper points than is required, to save on purchases at airports where the cost is higher.

Weight carried on each flight is also a key focus area. Over-fuelling of aircraft has been stopped, which saves on hundreds of kilogrammes.

The performance of every aircraft in the fleet is being closely evaluated, to bring each up to optimum efficiency. The airline is also focusing on having clean aircraft to reduce drag while in flight, with minimum dust and rough surfaces.

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