18 August, 2022


PPP Initiatives For SriLankan Airlines – Is it Being Sabotaged?

By Arun Kumaresan

Arun Kumaresan – Air Vice Marshal (Ret’d)

To the urgent attention of National Economic Council (NEC)

A Cabinet Committee on Economic Management (CCEM) chaired by the Prime Minister has seen an hour long presentation by the Malaysian budget carrier Air Asia staking claim under the cover to fill the gap of our own failed MIHIN AIR to operate a budget carrier with an Airline Operating License (AOL) from Civil Aviation Authority, Sri Lanka. This comes at a time when Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) is scouting for an investor to fund the National Liability and White Elephant – ‘SriLankan

GOSL has been upbeat in particular after a successful state visit by our President to Qatar, which had willingly agreed to check the feasibility to revamp the ailing SriLankan. As a mark of honor to our President, the Government of Qatar sent an expert team within couple of hours, whilst our President was still in Qatar, to Sri Lanka to commence negotiations with SRI LANKAN. It is to be noted an earlier attempt by Qatar in 2016 did not materialize due to the indifferent attitude shown by the officials in Sri Lanka. Less than two weeks into the above process, GCEM – a subordinate body to the NEC – has listened to the unsolicited proposals by Air Asia.

Nothing seemingly wrong on paper but to the surprise once again; subject Minister for PPP initiatives Mr Kabir Hashim has been kept in dark. He had stated, quote “Minister Hashim is a member of the CCEM; he said he had neither been informed such a pitch would be made nor sent any background information. It had, however, been included in the agenda. He did not attend the meeting. ‘I am not opposing it but I am concerned,’ “Proposals of this nature have to be carefully evaluated to determine the viability and ramifications on the bleeding national carrier.”

The phrase “viability and ramifications on bleeding national carrier” becomes significant as the GOSL is in the midst of hunting for an investor to partner our beloved National Liability –SriLankan. We have already have had the experience; all probable investors have left the negotiating table due to factors ranging from ‘Low return on investment … to the sabotaging attitude of the leadership of SriLankan during PPP discussions”. The latter is a well known secret as the same Minister who was blindsided in this particular meeting has complained earlier to the President at a Cabinet of Ministers meeting with regards to the arrogant attitude displayed by the leadership of SriLankan in taking suicidal decisions sans his (subject minister’s) concurrence. The same leadership too was recently reprimanded by the Prime Minster and had been advised to work under the directions of the subject minister.

Hence, the question arises whether the said unsolicited proposal by Air Asia is being floated by interested parties to discourage the investors in coming forward to partner with SriLankan; In short, no investor will come and takeover SriLankan, which is in dire financial state unless there is volume of passengers; the vital ingredient of passenger airline operations. A budget airline is bound to eat into this as volume as the national airline too is dependent of air travelers from the low income category.

The only beneficiary of this sabotage will be the few who are on high payroll; paid by the rank and file of the public, whilst the losses of this airline continue burn the exchequer. SriLankan leadership has woken from deep slumber of two years and now talk of restructuring and will continue to talk for another couple of whilst being funded by the state. This should stop and come to an end.

The proposals by Air Asia intentionally or otherwise sabotages President’s initiatives resulting from a successful visit to Qatar. May the NEC take due cognizance into above and;

  1. Shelve the proposal by Air Asia due to its’ inappropriate and suspicious timing.
  2. Appoint an independent negotiating team outside the current leadership of SriLankan to avoid conflict of interest to evaluate and finalize Private Public Partnership (PPP) initiatives (Reporting directly to NEC).
  3. In an event the PPP initiatives are not forthcoming; Air Asia option may be considered, which invariably see the demise of our National Liability.

Over to you Mr President!! 

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Latest comments

  • 2

    Rajapakse cartle played hell with it, and royally looted it. Now Ranil’s and Sirisena’s gangs are filling up to the hilt by milking and sucking the blood of the poor public who are paying direct and indirect taxs to keep this blood sucking monster above the waters. Even a kid knows that there is no enough will on the part of those who are presently running this monster to selvage it and save the immense hardship the poor public are under going. It’s very clear that those who are running it know that if it’s turned around, their days are over and they going to loose it all. Yes, it’s time for the higher up to appoint an independent team of local and international turnaround experts to find way out for this, and make it vial. These so called specialists nuts who are running it now, don’t have any clue to do this job even after two years of yahapallanaya. Why don’t they ask Air Asia to take over it and make it a budget carrier. If they tap the booming Chinese and Indian markets are more than enough for them. The amazing tourism magic and the real potential of it could bring millions and the whole world to SL and bring huge income to it, if done properly.

  • 2

    Crash it on to a scrap yard and try to salvage something from the wreckage.The job should not be given to the chairman as he might crash on to a relations/friends scrapyard.

  • 1

    Kabir is lying!!!! AirAsia met Kabir a number of times before this meeting. He is just trying to cover himself so that he will not get the blame if and when things go wrong. AirAsia also met Ranil a couple of times before. Some Minsters are about to make good money here!

  • 1

    It is my professional opinion that Sri Lankan Authorities are not understanding the full potential of the PPP system. PPP system is to include all stake holders as partners to completely eradicate corruption, delays in construction, delays in design and many more things. If Sri Lankan Airlines going to be managed under a PPP system, then every one in the Air lanka from Chairman to the cleaner become partners in managing the Air line, but in Sri lanka PPP means two parties ie. government and the other external partner.
    PPP system was first introduce by the American Forces to stop corruption as the Construction industry is corrupt world wide. Air Lanka is a very good chance to recover if the PPP system is properly applied. People like Arun with his brilliant knowledge about aviation should be absorb to the system to bring the Air lanka back from the Sinking.

  • 0

    Qatar is being built on the blood and sweat of foreign workers. Qatar has gained the reputation for driving foreign workers to toil the way pharaohs did. Qatar used money power to get the right the 2020 FIFA World Cup. The foreign workers have their passports taken away, not paid regularly and forced to live in unhygienic accommodation. On an average at work, every day one worker simply drops dead. MiddleEast is well known for foreign worker exploitation but Qatar is outstanding. There is a move to boycott the 2020FIFA World Cup. This may happen.
    GoSL may well not associate with such regimes.
    AirAsia is better in the sense that AirLanka will be less prone to nepotism. As to their late entry – well they know how to hunt i.e. identify the weakest prey! It is unlikely they will change the roster to enable a puppy to be flown from Switzerland. We may also be exposed to a system standing on merit as the criterion for advancement and so on.

  • 1

    Once “QATAR” said: SriLankan needs a GOOD HAIR CUT. This time they would say “Not only a Hair Cut; but a “Urgent & Immediate” BRAIN SURGERY. Will the President take that “ADVICE”? Is it the “ARRIVAL” of Air Asia at this moment to sabotage that “Hair Cut” and “Brain Surgery?. Let the President take NOTE of this move by PM.

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