22 May, 2022


Pilots Guild Further Exposes SriLankan Airlines’ Chairman Ajith Dias

In a further hard hitting letter the President of the Airline Pilots Guild of Sri Lanka Capt. Renuke Senanayake blamed Chairman Ajith Dias and the Board of Directors for their lack of vision and further stating that they have now lost all faith in the direction that they are being led.

Capt. Renuke Senanayake

Capt. Renuke Senanayake

This response was made by Capt. Senanayake to the airline’s Head of Human Resources Pradeepa Kekulawala who replied the ALPGSL’s letter addressed to the Chairman Dias earlier accusing him and the Board of Directors for being selfish and incompetent. Chairman Dias habitually does not respond to letters addressed to him.

The ongoing battle between the senior management of the airline and the Airline Pilots Guild of Sri Lanka continues with Chairman Ajit Dias scrapping the Business Class lounge access and usage of its facilities to staff who are entitled to Business Class travel.

However the Chairman Ajit Dias, CEO Capt.Suren Ratwatte and the Board of Directors despite being political appointees have retained the Business Class Lounge access and facilities for their wives and dependents.

A member of the ALPGSL speaking on condition of anonymity as he is barred from speaking to the media said ” The senior management should set an example and start reducing cost off their personal budgets first. That is if they are hell bent on saving the airline. Currently they rake in big bucks and what results have they shown to justify this? The Chairman was holidaying recently in Seychelles and just returned to the island. He does not have the courtesy to even reply our letters. The CEO Capt. Suren Ratwatte has cost the airline over Rs 50 million alone in wages and perks since October of last year. What has he done to justify his appointment to this role? Then they go an recruit Siva Ramachandran as the Chief Commercial Officer. The airline is paying him huge wages where his rent allowance alone is over Rs 200,000. His job is shutting down loss making stations. Anyone can do that. Now he is shutting down our access to the lounge. We have simply lost all our faith in this bunch of jokers”.

Meanwhile sources from within the airline have confirmed that the national carrier is to wet lease three aircraft off it Airbus A330 fleet to Pakistan International Airlines commencing August 2016.

However the basing of Pilots and Cabin Crew in the volatile stations of Lahore and Islamabad have been frowned upon by the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka causing the airline to spend UK Sterling 25,000 to a British based company to carry out a risk assessment prior to commencing this venture. This is as especially there is a severe element of risk to the lives of the Pilots and Cabin Crew especially after the national cricket team nearly suffered death at the hands of extremist gunmen during their journey from the hotel to the cricket grounds in Lahore in 2009.

We publish below Capt.Senanayake’s response in full.
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Airline Pilots Guild of Sri Lanka <xx@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, Jul 22, 2016 at 9:22 PM
Subject: Re: Lounge Facility
To: Pradeepa Kekulawala – HHR <xx@srilankan.com>
Cc: Suren Ratwatte – CEO <xx@srilankan.com>, Siva Ramachandran – CCO <xx@srilankan.com>, Rajind Ranatunga – HFO <xx@srilankan.com>
Dear Mr. Kekulawala,

Whilst thanking you for your clarification with regards to the use of the Lounge by Tech Crew when on official travel, we note the rest of the contents of your letter with a sense of distaste and denunciation.

1. You state “It only restricts the use of lounge facility by family members of employees on personal or (accompanying employee) on official travel.” The staff communique in question however states that all pax holding AD/ID tickets, including active UL staff are restricted from using the lounge facility.

In addition, you state that the CEO and CCO wish to clearly state that “Technical Crew between flights come under the same category as all other eligible employees who are entitled to use the lounge on official travel.” The policy in question on the contrary states that “All other staff members entitled to Business Class Firm tickets traveling on official duty will be entitled to lounge facilities at Colombo Airport only.” Kindly seek clarification from these two policy makers the difference between a tech crew member; in Uniform, using the lounge for rest purposes whilst operating a flight, from the same individual using it whilst on personal travel. The exclusion of tech crew members from the initial policy for fatigue mitigation as per the agreements to conduct these flights, together with the above contradiction, only serves to further enhance the fact that this policy was one that was brought about in haste with no forethought and amended only in hindsight.

2. Your Management further states that overcrowding and congestion of the lounge was the primary reason in effecting this policy. Please be so kind as to clarify how the lounge would be subject to “overcrowding and congestion” only when staff and their families use the lounge to which their confirmed (at check-in) B/C seat entitles them to. Using that same logic, they would also be correct in implying that if all B/C seats during a quantum of time were occupied by “premium passengers”, the lounge is inadequate in serving those requirements as well. Therefore, given the fact that this lounge had undergone a major renovation costing millions in the recent past; the question of what that renovation achieved begs to be answered.

3. The derogatory and demeaning insult directed at our staff and our families by stating that the product offered to our premium passengers would be compromised by allowing us the use of this lounge when traveling on a checked-in B/C seat, whilst reserving that privilege for the Chairman, Board, and their families is an insult that has seen no equivalence over the history of this Airline. In simple, laymen terms, the statement made is that they are superior to us and deserves no rightful place in this corporate structure, especially when speaking of “industry best-practices”. Further, if industry best-practices are to be pursued, it is only correct that such practices are implemented by example, rather than hoarding privileges and entitlements to the top-tier hierarchy alone.

We wish to also place on record that whilst this new Chief Commercial Officer seems to pursue illusionary cost-cutting measures by encouraging dissatisfaction and disenchantment between long-standing employees of this Company, we have seen the first ever negative trend of our commercial targets for the peak months of June-July. This seems to be a first, amongst many, in the history of this Airline. However, he has freely funded the recent 5 day rave at a hospitality box in Lords during the Sri Lanka – England Test, under the disguise of “Marketing”. The costs of rental alone are mind-boggling at £5000 per day for the first 03 days and then at £3000 per day for the remaining 02 days. This excludes travel fare, food, drinks and lodging for the Officials and their friends. Considering the cost cutting and saving measures taken by all departments and staff, we are disappointed to see such preposterous and outrageous spending by an individual who has been at the head of two Airlines that have suffered major setbacks and resulted in the closure of one as well. Track records certainly speak for themselves.

At this stage, it would be prudent to highlight that the Pilots have saved over USD 1 million in fuel savings alone, over the past year. May we also remind your Management that we were amongst the first to consider accepting a delay of our entitled increments, however, as a result of inept management decisions taken over the recent past, continuous targeting of the entire segment of employees other than yourselves and lack of a vision for the future, we have lost all faith in the direction in which we are being led.

In closing, we wish to place on record that this insult directed towards all SriLankan staff and their families will be a matter of consideration in future negotiations, when this Management wishes to obtain the support of all employees. Further, any measures to follow “industry best-practices” be shown by example from the top and that correct, deserving and proven individuals are recruited to critical posts from hence-forth.

Thank you

Capt. Renuke Senanayake President – ALPGSL

On Fri, Jul 22, 2016 at 12:22 PM, Pradeepa Kekulawala – HHR <xx@srilankan.com> wrote:

Dear Capt Senanayake,

This is to clarify the intent of circular MIA/GN/03/089 referring to Lounge Access at BIA.

I have been advised by the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Commercial Officer to make clear that Technical Crew between flights come under the same category as all other eligible employees who are entitled to use the lounge on official travel.

The overcrowding and congestion at the lounge and the need to preserve the quality of the product for our premium passengers, is the primary reason that this change was initiated. It only restricts the use of lounge facility by family members of employees on personal or (accompanying employee) on official travel.

We are confident that the pilot community understands the need to protect the levels of service offered to our business class passengers who represent the bulk of our revenue. This also follows industry best-practices as already mandated by practically all our competitor airlines.


Pradeepa Kekulawala

Pradeepa Kekulawala – HHR
Head of Human Resources (Office of Head of Human Resources) | SriLankan Airlines Ltd.
Human Resources, Airline Centre, Bandaranaike International Airport, Katunayake, Sri Lanka.

xx xx

( Janaka Ranaweera @ Colombo Telegraph )

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Latest comments

  • 8


    • 19

      Actually where were you guys hiding when Chairman Nishantha was at the helm?

      • 9

        Well said Renuke and wish you well.

        Only duty travel should give access to the lounge for board members as well as cock pit crew.

        The board members are doing well by incurring a monthly loss of Rs one billion per month with a forecasted loss of Rs 15 billion for this year!!!

        No one is accountable and hence best is to have a good time as long as possible.!!!

  • 4

    FCID should get help of The Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative of the US government which was established in 2016 to curb high-level public corruption around the world, and investigate Mahinda Jarapassa’s brother who was CEO of Sri Lankan in law and put him behind bars with the rest of the Jarapassa family,

    The Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative is Led by a team of Department of Justice prosecutors working in tandem with the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies, its mission is to forfeit the proceeds of corruption by foreign officials and, where appropriate, to use recovered assets to benefit the people who were harmed.

    Individuals with information about possible proceeds of foreign corruption located in or laundered through the United States should contact federal law enforcement or send an e-mail to kleptocracy@usdoj.gov. https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/us-seeks-to-recover-1-billion-in-largest-kleptocracy-case-to-date

  • 18

    These “Captains” are a joke. Nothing more than glorified Taxi Drivers.

    ban the unions and send these nut-jobs home. The reason Emirates and other
    great carriers are able to succeed is they don’t let pilots dictate commercial policy

    This Renuke is an undisputed idiot- go and fly for another airline, if you are able to get a job elsewhere.
    We don’t need you trying to rob our taxes!!

  • 19

    “saving $1 Million” ????

    It’s called doing your damn job. Our pilots are over-entitled idiots.

  • 8

    This ex garment industry HR person is off the nuts to say that Lounge is overcrowded. It seems he doesnt know that certain stations are closed down and the number of premium members are lesser than what the airline had in the past. He also doesnt know that the capacity of the aircraft’s remains the same or lesser now. I think he is guided by this failed Chief Commercial Officer. A baas Unnahe is trying to fill the vacancy of a highly qualified engineer. It is what all about this CCO.

  • 16

    There is no doubt about the incompetence of the UL management.

    But I do feel the pilots think they are some privileged bunch expecting everyone to bow down in reverence. You get your free tickets etc. I dont see wh your families and extended lot should get lounge privileges when you are flying using company offered free tickets. If at all UL should open and employees lounge or something like the executive lounge for these people. Their families and kith and kin could be afforded access on the payment of a lounge fee.

  • 11

    Who the heck is the Chairman, CEO and Board? All political appointees. Either all have it or not. Chairman Dias is now proving to be like a close relative of former lunatic Nishantha Wickremasinghe. It’s best that Chairman Dias resigns and disappears fast along with the other clown CEO Capt. Ratwatte. Two perfect peas in a pod who don’t know jack about running the affairs of an airline. Premier RW is to be blamed totally for endorsing these appointments. Looks like Siva Ramachandran a crafty Commercial failure himself must be taking these two clowns to task. Board of Directors wont question cos they don’t have a clue. Simply enjoying the perks.

  • 9

    Anyone could close routes , like it was done to Rome and near future Germany and France , has the board asked for a report action taken to make these routes break even or profitable ? Think this should be done before closing a route , it’s here where one could justify hiring a high rank manager with good perks

    • 8

      Given the losses that have been made over the past few years closing down of Rome/Frankfurt and Paris is No-Brainer and certainly does not require the recommendation of a highly paid CCO

      Challenge would be whether he would have the courage to recommend similiar action on London route as well notwithstanding the personal interests that Chairman/CCO/Few Directors and that octogenerian Advisor of PM has on retaining the route inspite of losses

  • 10

    These fellows are behaving like glorified thugs.

    Here’s a Hail Mary pass to all you buggers.

    ‘NO’ UL employee be allowed to use lounge facilities.

    Such facilities be available to paying passengers only.

    • 3

      I suppose you never enjoyed the facility whilst at SriLankan ?

      • 0

        No, I didn’t. Had lots of folks to speak to at the Airport which was more fun than bn stuck in a lounge.

  • 4

    This is like Kiriella saying in parliament, that he has to look after his supporters at the expense of the country, although they have not even passed O/L to be advisers at RDA. Sri Lankan board & hierarchy is no different under so called Yahapalanaya. Why bother when you can even fleece the sick by imposing VAT on sick people for the survival of these goats!Ask Prez, he will say Aiya I did not know!

  • 5

    Any effort to cut down cost by the Management should be commended.However what would be the saving being made by debarring staff to use the lounge facilities which they have enjoyed as a privilege since Inception of the Airline ? Aren’t there any other areas where significant savings could be made.

    Whoever was behind this move perhaps should have had the foresight to get the opinion from staff as well before making the decision.

    • 1

      A good place to start, no ?

      Access, ‘Only’ to paying passengers.

  • 3

    This is all Siva Ramachandran’s doing. He has been having a bone to pick with the pilots for a very long time and finally he is getting his way. It is all personal. Otherwise what cost cutting measure is this? There are zillion other ways to cut costs.
    Capt. Renuke is right in what he says. If you wish to take the facility away, then away it from everyone itself. The Chairman, CEO and Board have all arrived with the last shower of rain. None of these people have any love for the airline. But the rest of the staff have been working for the airline for years.
    Rama or Mr.’Shut Down’ has always been a proven failure as a professional.
    Wonder what was hidden agenda to bring him back?
    Rs200,000 for rent alone ?? wow !! The airline should have housed him at Hotel Goodwood Plaza, closer to the airport too!

    • 0

      Seriously Paul ? Rama a failure ?

  • 3

    This HR fellow know nuts n a big puppet. What does he know about industry norms? Being a Casanova and a famous lover – he has no interest in thinking and replying emails but just following others instructions? Ms dahanayaka would be knowing well :)
    However don’t we know that keeping such people like keku is a cost for the airline. We don’t need a puppet and the company paying him about 5lakhs with company maintained vehicle. Have a strong HR first! That’s the need of the hour. We need a head who will use his intuition in a focused manner not a lady’s man who promote women for his own benefit!

  • 2

    There are both rights and wrongs in Renuke Senanayake’s comments.

    When he talks about the Lounge Sri Lankan is not such a huge Airline like Emirates, Etihad or Qatar that we cannot accommodate the families of Tech crew and their families. And what does it actually cost the Airline. Pradeep is way off the track.

    On the other hand Pilots of Air Lanka and Sri Lankan from the time of the Dictator Rakkhitha Wickramanayake have behaved like they are indispensable. In fact, until 1994 no other section/department were allowed to form a Trade Union whilst the Pilot’s had their Guild and dictated terms even during such times. Thankfully, now it has dawned upon them to work in harmony and recognize that other employees in the Airline are also almost as important to the functioning of the Airline as they are.However, financial large disparities are yet a concern for other staff members.

    • 3

      As someone who had the privilege of travelling on SriLankan as well many other reputed carriers on Business Class and at times First Class as well on Industry Free tickets,with the exception of SriLankan hardly any other Carrier offered the Lounge Facility perhaps for good reasons.

      It is true at SriLankan eligible staff may have enjoyed this facility from inception of Air Lanka and would now feel that they have been deprived of a “Right” instead of a “privilege”.

      If the Management in their wisdom thought now is the time to do away of this Privilege well and good but it should be equally applied for every category of Staff who is travelling on Industry Tickets rather than being selective.This is where the problem lies.

      Now the Pilot community seem to feel that they are more aggravated by this decision than the rest of staff.If their qualms are based on the need to be provided with a Resting Area for their Crew whilst on duty of course they could be some validity which should be addressed by the Management.

      Provide them with a suitable alternative but not necessarily the Lounge that is meant for Revenue Passsengers

  • 2

    This is how pilots should be handled…. Take a leaf of the Kwan Yue book..
    Till our politicians and politically appointed goo days… grow a set of balls we forever will be in the doldrums….


  • 0

    As usual, many who had commented here had done so with predetermined mindsets and not after properly digesting the issue at hand. It’s the same with this bunch of jokers calling themselves management, guys ! They cannot understand what they are managing here and assume that they could harass the Pilots and other staff into accepting their conditions at a time when every little data available shows that the management had failed and failed miserably. The chairman should’ve a young and dynamic person with a good knowledge of turning around businesses but what the cat brought in was a guy whose ‘sell by date’ had lapsed many moons ago and shows arrogance and apathy instead of leadership by example. The CEO Ratwatte is yet another arrogant sod who didn’t sacrifice a better job to serve the country but had swopped his gus earlier jockey job for an easy life at double or more of what he was earning.
    Thanks to that boy specialist Ranil in parliament all these jokers were installed but what have they achieved ?! Nothing except more losses !
    Yes, for those who cannot understand let me tell you that the Pilots are indispensable but not the management. Trying flying a plane without those guys at the front. Their arrogance (some suffer from it ) is yet another matter but please understand before commenting here

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