Debt-hit Sri Lanka carrier to lease planes to Pakistan

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Sri Lanka’s cash-strapped national carrier is in talks to lease some of its new Airbus aircraft to Pakistan and Iran to reduce a $1 billion loss, a minister said Thursday.

State Enterprise Development Minister Kabir Hashim said SriLankan Airlines was about to conclude a deal with Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to lease out one Airbus A330.

“The aircraft will be operated for PIA by Sri Lankan crew and it will be based in London,” Hashim told reporters.

“It will fly to Islamabad and Lahore and we are also in talks to give them three more Airbus A330 planes,” he said.

Iranian national carrier Iranair had also shown interest in a larger A350 which Sri Lanka is due to take delivery of in a few months’ time, the minister said.

SriLankan, which has accumulated losses of $993 million, plans to scrap several European flights in the coming months and is looking for an equity partner to revive the business.