How SriLankan Airlines Earned the “Most Improved” Title for its Health Safety Achievements
SriLankan Airlines was the first carrier to take part in the APEX Health Safety powered by SimpliFlying audit. Now, it has become the first to improve from a Platinum- to a Diamond-level certification after updating its audit to reflect the most recent steps it has taken to ensure passenger and staff wellbeing.
One of the things that made SriLankan Airlines stand out during its recent audit update was its great success in terms of employee vaccination over the last six months.
As of mid-July, “Approximately 95% of the flight crew and 75% of the total staff have received both doses of the vaccine,” said the carrier’s CEO, Vipula Gunatilleka. He attributes this to an internal campaign led by SriLankan Airlines’ Group Medical Officer and supported by HR, which was highlighted during departmental meetings and briefings with frontline personnel.
More broadly, the vaccination drive was supported by the Sri Lankan government, which prioritized all frontline staff together with the medical services and armed forces. SriLankan’s employees were some of the first recipients of the vaccine early this year, and second doses were being administered by May.
Despite it being one of the most challenging measures to introduce, Gunatilleka believes that providing information about travel restrictions and testing requirements that are specific to each route it operates is also central to its health safety strategy.
“State and country regulations, restrictions and requirements are always changing and we initially struggled to get these updates in real-time. However, with the help of our network-wide management representatives around the world and dedicated internal teams, we’re managing to provide prompt updates to passengers across our relevant communication channels,” he explained.
In addition to providing peace of mind to passengers that their journey will run smoothly, the carrier is also focusing on creating a reassuring environment in the aircraft cabin. In April, it decided to give customers the option to book an adjacent seat to ensure it remains empty.
Gunatilleka commented, “Many industry surveys and studies reveal that passengers are most concerned about contracting the virus onboard an aircraft. Our “Neighbour Free seats” allows for social distancing on board that can mitigate this risk and bolster passenger confidence.”
On being part of the APEX Health Safety powered by SimpliFlying program, Gunatilleka said, “The audit gave us a checklist of critical areas, allowing us to streamline our focus for what is necessary. It has been a remarkable journey with the guidance from the SimpliFlying team to reach the highest attainable standard of health and safety measures.”