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Minister reprimands SriLankan, TU

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Minister of Shipping and Aviation, Nimal Siripala De Silva reprimanded SriLankan Airlines for flight cancellations and huge delays that occurred last Saturday at the Katunayake International Airport.

He also blamed some of the unions that allegedly were involved in it.

The Minister said that this delay may also have a negative impact on the proposed divesting of three segments of the national carrier: airline, catering and ground handling. “This is set to take place on March 5 and some bidders may pull out due to issues that are repeating frequently.”

He also disclosed that there are several private bidders to take over Sri Lanka airports and operate them and the government is talking with them.

“SriLankan Airlines faced severe delays last Saturday and I think the best way to stop these delays is either a 100% privatization or shutting down the airline,” the minister said in a hard hitting speech.

He also said that they had provided additional staff in many sectors and the excuse that the airline is under staffed doesn’t hold water. The SriLankan Airlines management however said that new staff need time to get used to it.

Chairman Srilankan, Ashok Pathirage said that the grounding of two aircraft and technical and staff issues were the main cause for this delay and steps have already been taken against this. He said that the airline is now on a steady financial path and is most likely to post better financial results than 2023 this year. “We are the largest SOE and earn over Rs. 330 billion turnover and with more aircraft this can be further increased.”

He also said that both catering and ground handling too could bring in more revenue to the country.

“However for the airline to make better profits we need more aircraft and we took over one flight last month and are expecting two more ‘320’ new planes in a few months.”

He said that soon after the COVID when the new aircraft were priced low and leases too were very economical the government did not allow the airline to purchase or lease aircraft. “This resulted in the airline having to limit our flying operations.”

He also said better dedication is needed by the staff to completely take the airline on a 100% profit path and demanding a salary increment by the unions cannot be justified right now.

“As for me I don’t take a salary, have returned the two cars and drivers assigned to me and have not taken a free ticket nor a single coffer from the airline.”

He also said that they are not against privatization but it should be clearly spelt out by the government.

“Follow up SriLankan, Airbus USD 1 Bn case”

Shirajiv Sirimane

SriLankan Airlines has sued Airbus for $ 1 billion as damages, loss of reputation, reimbursement of costs and interests.

The government should actively follow up the legal case against Airbus for bribing a top SriLanka Airline high official, Chairman SriLankan Ashok Pathirage told a special press conference yesterday.

A lawsuit was filed against Airbus by SriLankan for alleged corruption during the procurement of A350-900s and is seeking USD1 billion in damages and compensation, the cancellation of the outstanding order for four aircraft, and the return of USD19 million in pre-delivery payments for these aircraft.

The action follows the information revealed in the judgment of the Crown Court of the United Kingdom approving the Deferred Prosecution Agreement between the Serious Fraud Office and Airbus SE.

The Chairman said that the country could get back around USD 300 million if proper legal follow up could be done. The Trade Unions also said that there were lot of fraudulent deals that happened during the previous administration and the present management are paying for these ‘sins.’

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