Colombo Telegraph

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

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 <>
Date: Fri, Jul 22, 2016 at 9:22 PM
Subject: Re: Lounge Facility
To: Pradeepa Kekulawala – HHR <>
Cc: Suren Ratwatte – CEO <>, Siva Ramachandran – CCO <>, Rajind Ranatunga – HFO <>
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 <> 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 )

Back to Home page