Jan 13, 2019

SriLankan’s operational safety audit registration not renewed by IATA Featured

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has not renewed SriLankan Airlines’ registration for 2018-2019 under its Operational Safety Audit (IOSA), prompting several foreign operators to suspend code-sharing with the beleaguered national carrier until it complies with IATA strictures.

SriLankan Airlines was tight-lipped about what companies have suspended code-sharing with it until IOSA registration is restored. But the Oneworld Alliance website offers indication. The SriLankan Airlines website still says it has mutual code-share services with Air Canada, Alitalia, Etihad Airways, Finnair, Japan Airlines, Jetstar Asia Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Myanmar Airways, Oman Air, Qantas, Qatar Airways and Air India. But the Oneworld Alliance website says SriLankan code-shares with just Malaysia Airlines and S7 Airlines, Russia’s largest domestic carrier.

A code-share agreement is a common business arrangement in the aviation industry in which, usually, a flight is operated by one airline while seats are sold for the flight by all cooperating airlines using their own designator and flight number. Oneworld is an airline alliance for the world’s frequent flyers. SriLankan became a full member in 2014, making it the first airline in the Indian subcontinent to join an alliance.

SriLankan typically issues statements when its biennial registration under IOSA is renewed. For instance, the company said in a February 2017 press release that it had “renewed its registration under the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) for the years 2016-2017 in conformity with standards introduced by the International Air Transport Association (IATA)”. There has been no communiqué on the subject since.

Acting SriLankan Airlines CEO Vipula Gunatilleka confirmed that the IOSA registration was yet to be renewed but downplayed the situation. The IOSA audit was done in July 2018, he said, and observations were given. SriLankan has now responded and submitted a report to the audit organisation retained by IATA.

“We have met the requirements,” said Mr Gunatilleka, who took over in September last year. He added that there had only been a delay in meeting some conditions and that the status quo should be restored soon. He said SriLankan had submitted a report to IATA and had informed Oneworld of the development. However, IOSA is yet to renew registration.

The IOSA programme is an internationally accepted evaluation system that assesses the operational management and control systems of an airline. It was first started as a common standard for international code-sharing agreements.

The audit is conducted by an IATA-accredited firm and assesses the airline on eight scopes: organisation and management system; flight operations; operational control and flight dispatch; aircraft engineering and maintenance; cabin operations; ground handling operations; cargo operations; and operational security. It is not immediately known what SriLankan fell short of.

IOSA registration is mandatory for IATA membership. SriLankan Airlines first attained IOSA operator status in 2006. Independent sources said that the national carrier had “not been successful in the IOSA audit in certain areas”. The company is expected to take corrective action within a stated time period or will be deemed non-compliant.

“This has been developing over time,” one source said. “The safety management system is in place but unfortunately some elements of it were not being implemented to the required standards. The intention now should be to admit to the mistakes, accept that the carrier was lacking in certain areas, and take immediate action to rectify them as quickly as possible.”

The SriLankan IOSA audit has not been shared with the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka (CAASL). The local regulator could now do its own investigation to determine where SriLankan is slipping up on implementation of safety standards.

It is not known whether CAASL will demand more transparency from the national carrier–which did not issue a statement when registration was withheld–where such audits are concerned. “When it comes to safety, there is no room for secrets and silo,” Giovanni Bisignani, a former IATA Director General and CEO, once said.


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