Colombo Telegraph

Pilots Guild Accuses SriLankan Airlines Board Of Gifting CEO Ratwatte A Flying Scholarship – Cost To Tax Payer Around US $ 50,000

The Airline Pilots Guild of Sri Lanka has accused the entire Board of Directors of SriLankan Airlines of violating company procedures and awarding CEO Capt. Suren Ratwatte, complimentary training and rating to the fly the Airbus 320 aircraft which is now costing the tax payer approximately US $ 50,000.

CEO – Suren Ratwatte

In a hard hitting letter addressed to Capt. Rajind Ranatunga the Head of Flight Operations, the ALPGSL President Capt. Venura Perera, raised many questions regarding this unprecedented move taken by the Board of Directors.

The submission of the letter triggered due to the interference caused by the CEO into his own ongoing training, is where he got down Ground School Instructors to his office at the World Trade Center to conduct theory lessons for him in private and more importantly hand picking Capt. Ranga Amadoru to be his Line Check Pilot for his initial Line Check Flight scheduled for 12th of July 2017.

However the letter further elaborates as to how the Board of Directors have also violated company procedures in facilitating what the Pilots Guild deems as a scholarship granted to CEO Capt. Ratwatte.

The Pilot Guild in their letter states: “At this juncture we wish to remind you that the CEO was accepted into the coveted Tech Crew cadre of SriLankan Airlines beyond protocol: without him having to face the rigorous intake procedure that all Captain’s face irrespective of their skills and expertise elsewhere. Needless to say the company has recruited many Captains with superior flying capabilities and better track records, all of whom have gone through this process as it is the accepted standard by the company. It is also noteworthy that the Tech Crew trained by the company is bonded or the trainee bears the training costs whereas this appears to be a scholarship offered to the CEO. In which case may we kindly know for what merit or on what grounds he has been offered such an opportunity? It would have been worthwhile and productive if this opportunity had been offered to a young pilot”‘.

Meanwhile Colombo Telegraph reliably learns that prior to CEO hand picking Capt. Ranga Amadoru as his own Line Check Pilot, he had also handpicked two Ground Training Captains Pujitha Jayakody Jnr and Rakhitha Wijeratne. Further the CEO Capt. Ratwatte had also obtained the services of Capt. Mohan Pragasam to conduct his Simulator Training and Capt. Nimal Rambukwella to conduct his Simulator Check.

As the CEO Capt. Ratwatte has not flown for the last two years it has been made mandatory that he completes the full conversion course to enable him to fly the smaller single aisle A320 aircraft.

A member of the Pilots Guild speaking on condition of anonymity as he is barred from speaking to the media said “The entire Board of Directors has violated the mandate used in the recruitment of Pilots and for no value have wasted tax payers monies. Even the Non-Executive Directors Rajan Brito, Rakhita Jayawardena, H.C De Silva and H.K. Balapatabendi, who recently portrayed to be the good cops on the board, when they leaked a letter addressed to Chairman and copied it to the Secretary of the Ministry of Public Enterprise Development are also guilty in this case, as they collectively awarded this scholarship to the CEO. Will he be a productive flyer and complete the required minimum 70 to 80 flying hours per month? With no bond signed, how will the company recover the money spent on his training if in the event he quits his job or is fired tomorrow? He was recruited as a CEO and is being paid Rs 3.5 million a month according to what our Chairman Ajith Dias declared to the Cabinet Ministers. We need him to be making good operational decisions in his current capacity as the CEO and not be warming the cockpit seat. Is this the change we really wanted when we voted the Yahapalanaya government into power? I certainly dont think so”.

However with many blatant flaws now exposed into how this scholarship has been accorded to the CEO and the manner of how the training has been conducted, it may necessitate the Ministry of Public Enterprise to conduct a thorough investigation as was similarly done when the former first son Namal Rajapksa was accused of cheating during the final Law College examinations.

The letter sent in by the Pilots Guild also exposed the unethical and unacceptable behavior displayed by CEO Ratwatte as it read: “Do allow us to open your eyes to this clear abuse of power, again an unethical and unacceptable by anyone in an organization. An action that will certainly put our company’s reputation and the careers of many officials involved in jeopardy”.

Earlier at a meeting the CEO Capt.Ratwatte using the word “Fuck” many times threatened the members of the Pilots Guild that he would have them gutted (a word used to describe to cut open and remove the internal organs), besides singling out Capt. Sujith Jayasekara, whom he eventually fired for no apparent and valid reason. (Chamindri Karannagoda) 

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