SriLankan Airlines Chairman Ajit Dias is contemplating resigning from his post after the Airline Pilots Guild of Sri Lanka accused him and the airline’s Board of Directors of being selfish, incompetent and not setting a better example towards uplifting the cash strapped airline.
In a harshly worded email sent by Capt. Renuke Senanayake the President of the Airline Pilots Guild of Sri Lanka, Chairman Ajit Dias and the Board of Directors of the airline were reminded that they were political stooges and merely availing themselves of the airline’s privileges.
The provocative email was sent in by Capt. Senanayake after the airlines’ senior management changed its policy for the usage of the Business Class Lounge and its facilities accorded to airline employees who are entitled to Business Class staff travel privileges both locally and overseas.
However despite taking away these privileges from those entitled, the Chairman and the Board of Directors retained the same privileges for themselves, their wives and their other dependents.
This policy change made on the 1st of July 2016 was never communicated to the members of the ALPGSL until the 11th of July 2016. This was after an uninformed pilot and his travelling family was recently made to feel embarrassed, when they were denied access to the Business Class Lounge in Colombo.
A member of the APGSL speaking to Colombo Telegraph on condition of anonymity as he is barred from speaking to the media said “If the Chairman and the Board of Directors are so concerned of reducing cost, then they should lead by example. ‘Who the bloody hell are they? They are nothing but political clowns using the national carrier as their own private circus. The Chairman Dias, CEO Capt. Suren Ratwatte and Chief Commercial Officer Siva Ramachandran recently spent millions on a tamasha booking the hospitality box in London to witness a cricket match at Lords. They have no love for this airline. It’s only about themselves. Tomorrow they will be gone, but we still remain”.
Earlier the APGSL even threatened to pull off a strike seeking the resignation of CEO Capt. Suren Ratwatte after he abused pilots at a meeting using uncouth language and also threatened to expose a senior pilot of a past misdemeanor. The ALPGSL however subsequently withdrew their threat after CEO Capt. Ratwatte verbally apologized to the members of the ALPGSL.
Mr. Ajith Dias,
It is with a sense of profound disappointment that we received your communication dated 30th June 2016, with regards to the formulation of a new policy on the use of the Business Class Lounge.
The fact that we are entitled for Business Class travel as per Industry norms, but not for the lounge facility defies any rational thinking, especially since we have been entitled to this privilege for decades; including the period when we were under Emirates management. Coincidentally, it has been stated by numerous Government Officials that this period had been a profitable one, despite many internal and external controversies and disputes. If cost cutting at our debt ridden Airline was the primary objective of this policy, it is confounding that SriLankan Airlines sponsored a VIP hospitality suite at Lords for a few select individuals, during the recently concluded Sri Lanka Cricket tour of England. In addition, SriLankan Airlines sponsorship of Everest expeditions and mountain bike races have left many within the Airline as well as the general public, questioning the commercial logic of extravagant spending such as this and resulting gains, if any.
Since the start of your tenure in leading this Company, we have had a positive outlook on your Management, despite certain key appointments being debatable and mounting criticism in general. However, this new policy proves that irrespective of the dire straits we find ourselves in, the higher Management will always, first and foremost attempt to seek-out a benefit or privilege to retain or better for themselves, whilst depriving it from deserved staff who have rightly enjoyed these few and frugal entitlements for decades. If the intent of this new policy were cost savings, it should have been implemented by example, commencing from yourself as the Chairman, your Board of Directors and down. The mere fact that even on vacation, you and the rest of the Board Members together with your families can avail yourselves of this facility, only serves to display the integrity of your Board. It is therefore unfortunate that I must openly highlight the fact that a majority of the beneficiaries as per the new policy are in fact political appointees, with less time served in the Airline than most other staff who have stood by this Company, through the test of time.
Despite years of uncertainty and the fiscal abyss that SriLankan Airlines is now being portrayed as; mainly highlighted by yourselves and the Government, many previous Boards of Directors and Senior Management Teams have never infringed upon the few deserved entitlements afforded to the rightful staff. It is therefore ironic and in fact, astounding that you are responsible for this action when you; subsequent to your appointment, and the immediate past CEO, Mr. Rakitha Jayawardena, are clearly on record; at the very first first meeting held with the ALPGSL at WTC, stating that you will ensure that Pilots are restored to their past glory and placed at the rightful place within the structure of the Airline.
The stark disregard you have exercised in communicating with your staff is also reflected by this example alone. Your communique is dated 30th June 2016 to be effective from the 1st of July 2016. We received this communique from Flight Operations on the 11th of July 2016 as a follow up to an inquiry we sent your office on the 09th of July. During this time, a Member and his family had been at the brunt of an unacceptably embarrassing situation at the staff travel counter at BIA, whilst traveling on vacation.
The lounge at BIA is also used by our Pilots during extended ground times in between flight patterns and significant delays, as a fatigue mitigating measure. We must therefore insist that these flight patterns are reconsidered, reviewed and rescheduled with immediate effect.
Most of our Members may consider this move by you as a means of provocation with an ulterior motive, leading to a sinister end. May I once again remind you that to create internal rife and dissatisfaction amongst staff at a crucial juncture such as this, is clearly not in the best interest of our Airline. May I also remind you that human resources are also an integral part of this Airline and most of us have dedicated our lives to this Company. This is in obvious stark comparison to most of the beneficiaries and their family members of this newly formulated, arguably selfish policy.
I trust that due consideration is given to the fact that removing established entitlements and benefits from the staff that is entrusted with the biggest asset of the Airline is not in the best interest of industrial harmony. We urge you to reconsider this as matter of priority failing which, we will be compelled to inform all Pilots that non availability of the Business Class lounge during delays or combined patterns is against the agreed fatigue mitigating practices, and as such, to not undertake any similar duties/flights till this issue is resolved, effective from the ………………………
Capt. Renuke Senanayake
President – ALPGSL
( Janaka Ranaweera @ Colombo Telegraph )