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Fuel Shortage Prompts Airlines To Cut Capacity To Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s ongoing fuel crisis continues to wreak havoc across the country. National carrier SriLankan Airlines and international airlines have made drastic cuts to their schedule due to a lack of jet fuel. We take a closer look at the situation below.

Fuel crisis in Sri Lanka

Fuel supplies across Sri Lanka are dwindling rapidly due to a national economic downturn, leading to massive problems across the country. One severely affected area is the aviation industry, with airlines making significant cuts to their schedules.

Sri Lanka’s Civil Aviation Authority requested that airlines carry enough jet fuel for their return journey from June 28th as airports are not able to meet demand.

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Flag carrier SriLankan Airlines will be badly affected for at least a couple of weeks. Photo: Getty Images

An official told economynext,

“We can’t go on like this, but temporarily airlines can bring their return fuel and SriLankan can fuel at their onward destinations. For these factors, I don’t think airlines can continue for a long time. But for the time being, all airlines will look to manage the situation.”

On Sunday, Sri Lankan energy minister Kanchana Wijesekera warned there is only a day’s worth of fuel left, with jet fuel reserves critically low as Sri Lanka’s oil and gas company – Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) – struggles to import enough to keep up with demand.

The Sri Lankan government has allowed private companies to import jet fuel, temporarily ending the CPC’s monopoly on fuel imports and exports.

Sri Lanka’s main international airport, Bandaranaike International Airport, has the capacity for 7.8 million liters of Jet-A1 fuel. However, the airport has managed to secure an average of just 250,000 liters per day.

Sri Lanka defaulted on its $51 billion foreign debt in April, plunging the country into its worst economic crisis in over 70 years.

Which airlines are affected?

Under the current circumstances, airlines have a couple of options open to them if they want to operate services to Sri Lanka. The first option is to fly with enough fuel onboard to cover the return journey, a move known as ‘tankering.’

This isn’t ideal for airlines, as it not only entails operating a heavier (and thus more fuel-inefficient) flight, but it also means sacrificing belly cargo capacity and losing out on lucrative revenue.

Jet fuel reserves at Bandaranaike International Airport are desperately low. Photo: Getty Images

The second option is to land at a foreign airport to fill up on fuel. This is also an inconvenience as it will incur additional costs and lead to longer flight times and crew working hours.

Several carriers, including SriLankan Airlines, Air Arabia and Jazeera Airways, have utilized Kochi Airport in South India as a refueling base before continuing to Sri Lanka.

Low-cost carriers, including IndiGo, Vistara and flydubai, have been particularly affected by the current situation. These airlines operate narrowbodies that have limited fuel capacities, making alternative fuel arrangements more difficult.

SriLankan cuts capacity

Flag carrier SriLankan Airlines has warned of significant cuts to its schedule over the next two weeks due to the fuel shortage. SriLankan management sent out an internal memo stating that its operations will be affected until at least July 18th.


The airline claims to have run out of jet fuel reserves on June 29th and says that jet fuel imports won’t arrive for at least a couple of weeks.

Has your flight been affected by the fuel crisis in Sri Lanka? Feel free to share your stories in the comments.

Source: economynext

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