The Inland Revenue Department of Sri Lanka says that SriLankan Airlines has been practicing illegal methods to defraud EPF/ETF and Tax payments.
SriLankan Airlines has over the years been paying flying meal allowances in the billions of rupees annually to both its pilots and cabin crew at overseas hotels for long trips and also as a payment locally for short trips which is not highlighted in their salary slips.
When Colombo Telegraph contacted Inland Revenue Department official Mahinda Gunaweera, he said “a thorough investigation ought to be carried out in this regard if the details exposed by Colombo Telegraph were true”.
This faux pas made by the airline was highlighted by default when an unelected body of Flight Attendant Union Ex-Co Members sent a letter of demand to the airline’s management seeking EPF/ETF contributions for these said allowances.
An approximate sum of US $ 1000 – 1200 is paid to both the pilots and cabin crew in the form of meal allowances per month. When on overseas flights they get paid this allowance in the relevant country’s local currency. For flights operated such as short day trips where they return to base, these allowances are then paid in an separate pay slip which is not taxed.
The cabin crew basic salaries are relatively low compared to the actual amount of money they pocket at the end of the month.
Besides the basic salary, both pilots and cabin crew are paid meal allowances ranging between US $ 95-105 per day when on duty. This full payment is paid despite the fact that meals are provided on board for them whilst on duty.
“Basically the pilots and cabin crew get to eat whilst on duty and are also are paid these allowances” confirmed a manager within the airline’s In Flight Service Department. “We are now considering in not paying the crew any meal allowances in future when on overseas, but rather ask them to consume food at the hotel and sign for it. That way this EPF /ETF issue is not going to surface” he said also on condition of anonymity.
In comparison other successful carriers around the world usually pay the pilots and cabin crew a meal allowance only for the duration that their staff stay in the hotel.
But at Sri Lankan Airlines the Pilots Guild and the Flight Attendants Union seemed to have got their own way.
Despite these payments they are also paid another mind blowing allowance termed as “Productivity Pay”, which is a payment paid to these high flyers for merely turning up for work.
No other employee of any other department is afforded this luxury.
The unelected Flight Attendant Union body that sent the letter of demand to the airline’s management comprised of President Adrian Cramer, Treasurer Elseworth Weerasinghe and Secretary Lanka Kamalgoda.