16 October, 2021


Presidential Air Travel & The Nut Episode

By Rajeewa Jayaweera

Rajeewa Jayaweera

Firstly, President Maithripala Sirisena must be given his due. During his recent trip to Kathmandu to attend the Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) summit, he traveled in the manner, leaders of aid-dependent third world countries should travel. By normal commercial flights.

In his outbound journey, he had traveled with the national carrier SriLankan Airlines in a regular flight to Delhi and boarded an Air India flight on to Kathmandu. For his return journey, he had traveled to Karachi with a foreign airline and boarded a regular SriLankan Airlines flight to Colombo.  

It is a welcome departure from the manner his predecessor traveled the globe, commandeering aircraft from the hapless national carrier.

However, the ‘nut case’ is another matter. 

Addressing a gathering of farmers in Hambantota, he had stated “Returning from Kathmandu, I was served some cashew nuts on board a SriLankan Airlines flight, but it was so bad even a dog wouldn’t eat it. I want to know who authorized the purchase of these nuts.” 

President Sirisena, his spouse and some of the members of his delegation traveled in Business class. Both Air Lanka and SriLankan Airlines, for decades, have served cashew nuts to Business class passengers in small ceramic bowls embossed with the airline’s logo and not in their original packings. 

The persons responsible for food and beverages served in the Business class cabin are the In-flight Supervisor (title may be different now) and the Cabin Service Manager (formerly known as Purser). Service of rotten cashew nuts, may it be to the Head of State or any commercial passenger is a dereliction of duty on the part of these two staff members.  

Therefore, rather than blame the supplier, supposedly a Dubai based company, a more constructive manner would have been for the Head of State to summon the Cabin Service Manager and made his complaint and maybe even suggest, the cashew nuts be tasted by her/him. He could have also summoned the Captain and requested him to record his complaint. 

There is no information available if the empty packings had been preserved by In-flight staff to establish if food with an expired Expiry Date had been served in the inquiry that is bound to follow. 

Since it has been announced the Dubai based supplier has been discontinued, the offending cashews have obviously been catered by our own SriLankan Catering.    

President Sirisena has been made to appear in poor light in the international press with his complaint being compared to the ‘Nutrage’ episode four years ago involving a daughter of the Chairman of Korean Air. Herself a director, she assaulted a cabin crew member for being served macadamia nuts in a bag rather than in a bowl. 

This episode is but another example of the sorry state of the once renowned In-flight Service for which the national carrier had a reputation. 

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Latest comments

  • 7

    Rajeewa Jayaweera may get a call from President to become chairman of air lanka. His article is so praiseworthy of president. He should have attacked sirisena for bringing down air lanka. we lost business as a result.

    dont blame flight staff. the nuts were good nuts, nothing wrong. The nutty president states bizzare things alwasys the whole world knows this. remember how he attacked milo then served milo at his propaganda meeting.

    • 4

      Chun Paan

      Reasonable idea

      The problem should be seen from different angle

      If samples haven’t reached the government analyst for testing; sad to say that the president is really nuts.

    • 1

      Chun pan

      As a matter of fact

      .The problem should be in different angle

      If nuts samples haven’t reached the govt. analyst for testing; sad to say that the president is really nuts.

    • 2

      Chun Pann, if ‘the nuts were good, nothin wrong’, why discontinue the supplier???

  • 8

    A gamarala is a gamarala. Gamarala should be ploughing in the paddy field. This gamarala is trying to do things he has never done. Country suffers.

    • 3

      Yamuna Kalupahana

      Are you nuts?

      Don’t insult the president

      It’s people who elected him in the absence of city charisma.

      (UNP found MS was more charismatic than RW), Find the difference between criticism & insult.

  • 7

    RW , Ravi, Malik and Mahendran will order champagne and caviar in the business class cabin while going to meet Western big shots.(they also travel free with our money)

    But under them the economy is in shambles, rupee destroyed, and corruption rampant.

    So what if the difference between a villager and these old boys from one Colombo school ? Speaking in English ?

  • 5

    These are dehydrated half fresh, nuts prepaird without oil. Most people like this and it’s not cheap annually Sri Lankan Air lines pay circa Rs. 32million for the product. The local producer cannot give the needed quantity and gives a tab of Rs 42m. HE must’ve expected a chilli roasted cashew nuts. Completely wrong handling by the first citizen and the Airline. By the way Dogs don’t eat cashews

  • 1

    MS had let out a bit of steam via ~ “Returning from Kathmandu, I was served some cashew nuts on board a SriLankan Airlines flight, but it was so bad even a dog wouldn’t eat it. I want to know who authorized the purchase of these nuts.”
    The local media latched on to this.
    Had Citizen Lanka made such a comment, no one would have taken any notice.
    Rajeewa Jayaweera should fume at the disparity. He does not.
    Rajeewa please note that MS did not order download of passengers or anything like that.
    There was violence in the Korean nut-rage. There was not even a verbal admonition here.
    To the best of my knowledge the cashew-complaint did not reach international news-worthiness.
    But THE passenger downloading did.
    Please remind me Jayaweera,”Who was involved in that episode?”
    PS: Will someone tell me which dog breed eat cashew.

  • 0

    Dear Rajeewa,
    Whilst complimenting you on your recognition how the incumbent head of state travels opposed to his predecessor, the following needs to be stated that can be easily verified through your former colleagues at UL.
    The Cashew nuts that were served on board were imported packed in Dubai imported from Thailand/China. It is also a variety of Genitically Modified (GM) nuts. It was actually horrible to consume and could be said that it was similar to chewing on a foul tasting peice of rubber.
    It is also fact that there were numerous complaints from passengers which were duly noted in the voyage reports of the cabin managers and had been also brought up at numerous meetings with the in-flight management. Belive it or not the answer given was “if they don’t like it then let them not eat it” by the in-flight manager SZ.
    Whilst I agree with the sentiments that H.E. could have handled the situation better as talking about it at a ceremony with Farmers serves no purpose, the fact of what he stated was the absolute truth and only then was it this supplier changed.
    What is more ironic is that to date there have been no inquiry as to why such cashews were served and more so to the premium paying passengers and despite all the documented complaints from the passengers and cabin manager’s was no action taken till the president highlighted it.
    With regard to it being on news, I think we all can agree that there is a shortage of news especially on the local media since the end of the conflict and such trivial things are highlited as significant issues which is much better than the bloodshed we heard about for 30 years.

    • 0

      UL Pilot
      Thanks for your comments and valuable insider information.
      What you have stated further consolidates what I have stated. The fault lies with the In-flight Dept./staff rather than the supplier. What is the point of voyage reports if feedback is not acted upon? The IFS Dept. is responsible and must be held accountable for quality control at the point of delivery.
      Now that the subject minister (Kiriella) has got involved and has held a meeting with the Chairmen of UL and Cashew Corporation, matters are bound to get nuttier!

  • 1

    Rajeeva, The Nut Expert. Look like you had some of those served to MS . That is one more reason for common man to not to travel in first/business class. Now being a pseudo patriot please do some thing about it.

  • 2

    The correct way to address this was to take up the matter with the Chairman of SriLankan, not air it in a public meeting and shoot himself in the foot. Utterly irresponsible from a man who is hell bent on proving that he is not fit to govern. Sad, because once-upon-a-time he was our hope to clean up the stables.

  • 0

    The president is nuts

  • 0

    Once more, the Gamarala from the backwaters of Polonnaruwa proves the shoes of
    President are far too big for his feet. By suggesting dogs eat cashew nuts he exhibits
    his sheer ignorance. There are a dozen ways this trivia could have been handled sanely without causing irreparable harm to the National airline. Insiders insist this is a further extension of the continuing Ranil-Gamarala back-stabbing.


  • 0

    President is living in the past He never expected his utter

    Prtesident is living in the past.He would have never thought that his speech to
    Polonnaruva Farmers would reach the rest of the world. pardon him for his ignorance !


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