23 May, 2022


Pilots Guild Accuses SriLankan Airlines Chairman And Directors Of Being Selfish And Incompetent

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.

Capt. Renuke Senanayake

Capt. Renuke Senanayake

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,
SriLankan Airlines.

Dear Sir,

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 ………………………

Thank you

Capt. Renuke Senanayake
President – ALPGSL

( Janaka Ranaweera @ Colombo Telegraph ) 

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Latest comments

  • 30

    There are several issues involved here which need to be addressed. Firstly Renuke’ main concern is that the privilege of using the lounge be restored to the pilots and families. In the overall scheme of things this if restored, this is not going to make a dent in the significant losses the airlines is making. As far as one can remember, this airline has been the vehicle used by politicos to get their mates a good job and to use it like it was their own asset. guys like Dias and Ratwatte are obviously political appointments being ex Royalists and know=n to RW. I would question their suitability for these positions. Hiring Ratwatte as the CEO because he was an ex pilot is like appointing a taxi drive to manage a large transport corporation. Bloody joke. Dias is also not qualified if he has made this decision to remove the privilege of lounge access without discussing the issue with those involved. It just goes to show how incompetent these guys are who do not have an iota of management skills. What hope for Sri Lanka if the same mistakes repeated by the previous regime are followed. My ADVISE IS TO SACK THE BOARD OF DIRECOTRS AND ADVERTISE ALL THESE POSITIONS INTERNATIONALLY SO THAT THE BEST AND MOST COMPETENT PEOPLE ARE APPOINTED.

    • 31

      What was this Joker Pilot Renuka Senanayake doing, when Nishantha Wickremasinghe, MR’s BIL was screwing the Air Hostesses on Air Lanka account? Was this bugger also a beneficiary under MR?

      • 12

        Gamini no doubt about that all these were part of the thieves under Nishantha naki manamalaya.
        I wonder what has the current govt taken up against most abusive nakiya – who almost abused theairline debting 400 billions or more.
        Now with nothing at the site belong to lanka, but the name only – what do we have?
        Gone were the days, Meeharaka painted it Chandrika sold it out, I got the name back… what actually Meeharaka got – the losses ranging to over 400 billions to lanken state. Now with waiting times to search for a partner – makes it very dfficult to convince anyone.. who would join an airline with that much of losses.
        Balligige puthas looted the nation because of their fully ignorance. They call it though management.
        Why the average cant get is my question. We need to eat punnakku, but not to the level – we are made to.

        • 10

          Renuka is brave young man to have the guts to sign this letter. During MARA regime he would have been six feet under ground by now!!

          Having said that, Sri Lankan incurs a monthly loss of Rs 1 billion and the expected loss for 2016/17 is around Rs 15 billion and congratulations to the board and management on a fine performance !! Hence the use of lounge by directors or pilots and families is not going to change the end result.

          To be fair by the current board they have made some important decisions:

          1 amalgamate MIHIN
          2 sell A 350 aircraft without taking delivery
          3 carve out ground handling and separate it
          4 stop flying to Paris and Frankfurt
          5 seeking a JV partner
          6 not accepting board fees
          7 publicly acknowledging that the airline is bankrupt
          8 freeze on recruitment unless critical

          However they have made some blunders as well

          1 recruitment of some unsuitable very senior staff
          2 delay in restructuring the airline
          3 considering bombardier aircraft as possible replacement
          4 not taking action against previous board members and senior staff for malpractices
          5 not reducing staff to sustainable levels such as 150 per aircraft from current 250
          6 not renegotiating pilot salaries and allowances downwards from Rs 2 million per month and stewardesses salaries from Rs 500,000 per month.

      • 16

        gamini you see nothing wrong in RW and everything wrong with MR.

        But for millions of us both are irrelevant.We only want the country run well and for us to be able to meet our needs.

        I dont know whether Renuke was the president of the guild then. Even if he was, just like everybody else he would have been frightened of Gota and his terror tactics.Even you write( and wrote) under a pen name. You never got on the stage during the Rajapakse regime.

        The people of this country won their inherent freedom to live without fear by voting Sirisena and UNP into power.

        Neither sirisena nor RW gave us freedom. These are our inalienable rights.They are not gifts given by RW.We saw RW at his best in the Mahendran issue, the VAT issue, a tragedy for the country that does not seem to end.

        Now the people using their inherent rights are criticizing chaps who are enjoying jobs and perks created with public money.

        The pilots work at air Lanka. the directors who are only political appointees are only out to enjoy the perks and make money and commissions whenever they can.

        Please tell us the qualifications of these directors who are now making decisions concerning airlines and policy.Are they even living here? Where are their families living ? Where are their investments ? Do they have a commitment to this country ?

      • 2

        This not Capt Renuka writing. This is the guild president. During MR time the president of the guild at that time should have looked in to that. Just because one GP looks the other way does not mean all the other should follow. Wel done Capt Renuka, Keep it up the good work.

    • 8

      Mate..President of this land is a Gramasewaka. The FM is a Hairdresser and the list is endless…. Appointing a taxi driver to run a taxi company …? Good one..!! No matter what color the government is … they are attracted to the smell of money..big time airplane orders and purchasing stuff and the TAX payers take the fall. Ther is no way out of this mess..

  • 21

    If only the Pilots ‘ Guild had the guts to speak up two years ago, the airlines won’t be in the financial mess it’s in now. Where were you guys then?

    • 17

      Their orifices were sealed off by Gotabaya et al – as it was the case for Cabinet ministers of Medamulana thakkadiya.

  • 14

    Capt. Renuke Senanayake the President of the Airline Pilots Guild of Sri Lanka,

    RE:Pilots Guild Accuses SriLankan Airlines Chairman And Directors Of Being Selfish And Incompetent

    “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.”

    Do you think Mahinda Rajapaksas’s brother in Law , who has or has noot passed GCE OL was incompetent?

    What is your reference point?

    It should be the revenue, expenses and profit or loss.

    Otherwise you will be accused as another cronie of Mahinda Rajapksa.

    Learn from Copernicus and Galileo. Come up with the facts and data in support of your hypothesis.

  • 15

    Just spoke to my friends at the airline. They are not pilots. They say that this start by Chairman and CEOis good, while three hundred pilots will complain about this six thousand other staff ( apparently not entrusted with the biggest asset of the airline hic hic ) will support this. If pilots endanger jobs of other staff by going on strike or sabotage then six thousand are ready to rise against them. The general staff union Nidahas Sevaka samithiya is miffed with the pilots already apparently for not supporting the movement against splitting up of ground handling. Let the games begin they say.

  • 18

    THis is very funny , I always thought the lounge was meant for the use of us passengers who pay for our tickets !!!! All airlines dont allow the entry of employees into these lounges (I have my freinds children flying/working for Etihad airways and Qatar who are here for a family reunion -one of them manages a lounge) that there is no way that they use these places) The pilots have hard job to do to fly the airplane to heights , in our beloved country they want to eground it and enjoy other benefits . Time this airline went to the private sector and sanity restored So sad what we do to our airline and other institutions in SL , enemies are within !!! wake up pilots

  • 17

    Renuka and Pilots of SL airlines,

    I am sure your grievances are valid and it must be addressed. I don’t see why the chairman and CEO are allowed to enjoy the perks but not the Snr crew. Having said that please appreciative that you can boldly sign your name on the letter and also have it published on CT without any fear. This government was left with a rotten economy by MR which had a lot of fluff sans strong economic fundamentals. UL seems to draining all that we struggle and earn for this economy. This includes the farmer , the mechanic , the doctors , the engineers , the teachers etc. During MR’s time you would have been picked up by white van for this letter and trust me the van does not go via the business class lounge. Your final destination would have been a mortuary. So please refrain from attacking the national airline which needs to be turned around. All you guys have to work as a team.

    • 9

      Well said !

      Our Pilots cannot land a craft without a jerk but only interested in their perks and privileges !

  • 12

    People who had made comments are either bias or they do not know the basics. There is no use of quoting MR or his BIL in current issues since the airline is presently managed by a new set of jokers. At this crucial juncture we need professionals to save this sinking carrier. Hiring experienced proven professionals even from a foreign country will help rather than paying Rs 3 million a month to a person without a proven track record. He will make a fast buck and move out.Lounge facility is an entitlement for Business class fare paying passengers. As many companies are practicing the lounge facility for certain categories of staff of the airlines is a privilege extended to them like any other airline in the world. Pilots are a very strong and a powerful set of employees who can bring the airline down to its knees with a very short notice. I think if the Chairman used his old kidneys he would have first thought of looking in to the major avenues of money wastage rather than concentrating on petty issues. I believe it is time for Ajith Dias to go home with his bunch of money wasters and watch cricket at home.

  • 8

    Lounge facility is for the passengers. not for pilots or srilankan staff.. why these pilots cant understand this.

  • 23

    I have never heard or seen any employee write a letter to chairman such as this. Chairman Ajit Dias is to be blamed for exposing himself to be abused in such a manner. He has proven to be an incompetent guy from day one. Obviously he is not going to recruit a a smarter CEO than him, hence he got Capt. Suren Ratwatte for the job. Two bloody jokers not having a clue about running the affairs of an airline, accompanied by a bunch of directors who are political appointees. But they will not hesitate to travel on company expense to Lords to watch a cricket match.
    Now they want the lounge facilities for their wives and dependents. Board Directors Rakhitha Jayawardena and Niranjan Aditya are the biggest culprits using staff travel privileges according to their own whims and fancies. Obviously they have their private businesses and need to travel to attend to such. What a bloody lottery these buggers have won. Shameless to the core.
    Well done Capt.Renuke for having the courage to tell these buggers off.

  • 4

    Having read the comments here I would have to agree with ‘Ajantha’ who seem to know what he/she is talking about. All airlines have privileges for different levels of staff and it’s reasons are a no brainer. What Renuke says is for the biggest joker here Dias (a former tailor or apparel guy) to look at the big picture and cut wastage rather than create a bigger rift within the company. If they want to close down this ailing airline there are much better ways of doing it than inciting its own staff !
    The whole Board (bored!) and its Chairman are absolute misfits and should never have been selected in the first place. This is yet another of Ranils buffoonery and arrogance.

    The Pilots guild too are accused of selfish behaviour. When a local Captain was terminated for having exposed several safety related issues affecting their flights and the matter reported to their so called Safety Dept and the Civil Aviation Authority (the Apex body for aviation in SL), they just sat on their fat bums doing nothing ! So it has come back to haunt them ?!!

  • 6

    Pilots guild

    During intake after intake when Senior Pilots,brothers,sisters,nephews,sons ,daughters ,god children and their boyfriends were taken in Cadets pilots did u manage Ake these noise and talk about discrimination.????

  • 8

    Don’t know why these pilots want the lounge anyway as it has become a noisy ,glorified bath kade.

    Pilots have their own place of rest and they don’t need lounge in between flights.This pilot is threatening to boycott flights too.Funny guy.

    The management must lead by example and management must issue memo to effect that only full paying passengers are given lounge voucher,no upgrades,no waiving excess kilos as it is a revenue stream etc.

  • 10

    Dear Captain,

    Well said. I on behalf of all aviation enthusiasts and followers of our national career support you.

    Despite what is said by others, Sri Lankan airlines is one of our countries pride and I personally honor all deck crew and cabin crew.

    If there is a day you all have to walk out for your rights, I’ll be proudly standing next to you’ll supporting you.

    For all other, please appreciate what he has done, when none of us spoke, this guy did. He just did.

  • 8

    What a right old load of bollocks.

    This is our National Carrier and the whole world can see its management and employees at loggerheads as to who can screw the company most.

    As a regular paying customer, I can only say how depressing it is to learn of these shenanigans. Everyone, from the Chairman down should hang their heads in shame. The airline is a drain on the national resources. This, in a country where people who use our national hospitals have to take in their own drugs, bandages etc in order to get treatment. These parasites are enjoying a full a la carte menu.

    Customers of the Airline should tread with care, because any day now we will suffer major inconvenience when the brown stuff that results from these disputes hits the fan.

    Let us remind Sri Lankan that there are options; we have a choice.

  • 9

    Lets not talk of the past, as present govt came to power to do the right thing.
    First Rathwatte got the Job not because his carrier as a pilot, but he is brother of Chritha
    Rathwatte, who is cousin of Ranil.

    I agree as no businessman wants to go to a lounge that is crowded. Decision is a good one.
    But as Capt Renuka says, Board has to set by example.! Also they need to get rid of overstaffed
    air line and add more profitable routes and air crafts, even for them to break even.

  • 1

    Sri Lankan Airlines had other names in the past. Air Ceylon, Air … and so on.
    Same political stooges of the the existing Govt’s: from Day One from 1948 or so.
    SLFP and UNP alternative Govt’s:. Same language, same metality and same breed. Never a change. Do you’ll agree? Different Govt’s: same style. Same mentality. What progress have we made in the Airline industry? We are still the same beggers, with deifferent clothing at diffrent times. Same succers. God bless them all but they will never learn at all. They will remain brainless infants all the time.
    God bless Sri Lanka. We pray to Jesus, our Lord, Only God. the Son of God, creator of heaven and earht.

  • 9

    Been in the airlines for a considerable period of time and I find
    that Capt. Renuke Senanayake’ s email to the Chairman was quite unnecessary. and Chairman’s reaction was foolish. Stopping the use
    of lounge facility for the senior staff of airline was one of cost cutting measures, the board adopted and the pilot guild should have appreciated the move at a time, the govt. is trying to revive the airline. This is not an entitlement to the airline staff nor fare paying passengers.The lounge facility at the airports are meant for fare paying passengers and given as complimentary gesture and the airline pays around USD 50/- per passenger to the airport authorities who runs it for the airlines. Capt. Renuke claims that the board of directors use the facility and he should know that directors are much higher in status that a country manager or a pilot and in fact they should decline the offer of such facility and set an example. Capt. very rightly criticised the tamasha at Lords, Cricket grounds, which may be right for a rich airline on an advertising point of view but our airline cannot afford this kind of extravaganza at this time and he should delete the section he referred to use of airport lounge from the email as surely the passenger lounges at airports are very comfort
    -able and can sacrifice such extra comforts for the sake of the dying airline.

    Much of what Capt.Renuke said in his email are true and it is advisable
    to hand the airline to private sector to run as they have proved that
    they are able administrators with an assurance that there will be no govt. interference in administration. They should engage foreign experts to assist in certain areas like engineering and Marketing and
    avoid the “know all” attitude.

  • 7

    Nothing will happen…the Pilots need their jobs just like the GMOA loudmouth doctors will never leave Sri Lanka, no matter their constant threats.
    Ajith Dias is Ranils croney as are the other clueless good for nothings in the executive floor.
    If Dias has any self respect left, he would have resigned a long time ago. How many free tickets do you think he and his family have used in the last 18 months.

    These are the blood sucking leeches Sri Lanka is blessed with.

  • 5

    Ajith dias (chairman, Sri Lankan Airlines) is very happy to help, entertane his friends with Sri Lankan Airline money. he is millionare businessman – former owner Brandix but no spending his own fund.
    Example 1 : At Lords Cricket ground he spend airline money had super enjoyment with arjuna, aravinda, sana, sanga.
    Example 2 : Ajith Dias recruite Mr Lalith Withana for Sri Lankan Airline Chief finance Adminsistration officer. Withana earlier working for Dias at Brandix. No airline experience, knowledge. Salary 15 lacks. With out any interview. Director board some persons object. But Dias took withana to do dirty tasks.
    Person behind removing lounge benefit to employee is Withana saying we have to do cost cutting.
    Withana taken Chairman power to his hand and harass employees. But some people who say yes are promoted. It is total mess inside airline because of Dias & Withana & Suren Rathwatte.

  • 2

    Ajith dias (chairman, Sri Lankan Airlines) is very happy to help, entertane his friends with Sri Lankan Airline money. he is millionare businessman – former owned Brandix but no spending his own fund.
    Example 1 : At Lords Cricket ground he spend airline money had super enjoy with arjuna, aravinda, sana, sanga.
    Example 2 : Ajith Dias recruite Mr Lalith Withana for Sri Lankan Airline Chief finance Adminsistration officer. Withana earlier working for Dias at Brandix. No airline experience, knowledge. Salary 15 lacks. With out any interview. Director board some persons object. But Dias took withana to do dirty tasks.
    Person behind removing lounge benefit to employee is Withana saying we have to do cost cutting.
    Withana taken Chairman power to his hand and harass employees. But some people who say yes are promoted. It is total mess inside airline because of Dias & Withana & Suren Rathwatte.

  • 1

    Saman – The airport lounge operated by the airlines is not a medical
    centre nor a massage clinic. It is a room dedicated for the airline’s
    first class/business class passengers and their VIPs, serving short
    eats and hot & Cold drinks at exorbitant prices during their layover before take off, which is around 45 to 60 minutes, the most,if there is no delay and each passenger is charged and paid by the airline in foreign currency, overseas.

    Don’t know who these men are, whom you mentioned above but who ever who withdrew the facility, has done it in good faith, as a cost cutting
    measure. Do you mean to say that the Pilots and their families cannot
    do away with not using the facility while the airline of ours is making
    heavy losses in USD.? Can understand if there was an overnight stay is
    involved. It is prestige they are looking for at airline’s cost.

    I agree with you that even the present management does not have a
    uniform policy on cost cutting as what is earned on cost cutting is
    spent lavishly on entertainments, un proportionately like the Lords event.

  • 1

    Why listen to these GLORIFIED BUS DRIVERS !

  • 0

    The chief pilots of training comes to office using crew transport while they are paid a travelling allowance. what is yahapalayanaya there???

  • 1

    Sri Lanka Airline staff, including their Pilots, are no different to most Sri Lankans in general. They seem to think that their employers owe them much more than just the salary they get paid for the job they do.
    Lounge access is not a privilege afforded to Pilots and their families in any other airline as far as I know. I have used airline lounges in many airports worldwide, but never have I seen a uniformed Pilot in one.
    If indeed this has been a perk given to Sri Lankan Airline pilots and taken away, then the policy should definitely apply to all employees including Senior Management. One would expect them to set an example or most certainly have the type of response seen here.
    Any Airline depends on their customers who pay very good money to fly on their airplanes. One of the perks afforded to First and Business Class passengers and loyalty customers who use the airline regularly, is the use of the lounge, and this should remain specifically for the customer.
    In the case of Sri Lankans in particular, this facility CAN, and WILL be abused, by the huge families that we tend to have. An airline which is being held together and propped up by the Tax payer (Customer again) does not NEED to afford this facility to employees, and employees who claim to LOVE the airline, will be the first to accept this as a necessary money-saving excercise, and by employees I mean the Senior Management and Directors as well!!

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