23 September, 2020

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Putting SriLankan Airlines Together Again

By Rajeewa Jayaweera

Rajeewa Jayaweera

Rajeewa Jayaweera

Public Enterprises Development Minister Kabir Hashim’s revelations on SriLankan Airlines (UL), published in a leading weekend publication last Sunday, did not reveal anything new. The public have been hearing of excesses of the Rajapaksa administration both at SriLnkan Airlines (UL) and other state owned enterprises since 09 January 2015. What the general public would like to know is what has been done by this government since 09 January 2015 and the present Board of Directors (BoD) appointed on 12 February 2015 to turn around the airline.

Company Law of this country stipulates, BoD will elect a Chairman amongst them. The first Minister of State for Aviation appointed on 09 January 2015 resigned in a huff due to his nominee for Chairman being rejected. The Chairman as well as Board of Directors was appointed by the Prime Minister mostly from amongst his close associates. Last Sunday’s report confirms the rumour of the present BoD being divided into two factions.

Deputy Minister Eran Wickramaratne is on record stating in Parliament, UL had made a profit of Rs 4.4 billion in 2008. He further stated, the agreement with Emirates was “a good decision even if done by a different administration”. The then Opposition (UNP) opposed the privatization deal and its leader handed over a letter to the local UN office stating his intention to abrogate the agreement in the event of his party being voted into office.

UL increased it’s 2007 profit of Rs 568.05 mil by 780% in 2008 to Rs 4.4 bil (exit year of Emirates) and then incurred a loss of Rs 9.3 bil in 2009. Eelam IV was in full swing in 2008. The massive profit was declared by selling off assets (aircraft and engines) and leasing them back and not from airline operations!

There is much talk of the aircraft deal concluded by the Rajapaksa administration. Deputy Minister Wickramaratne speaks of “National Crimes” and “Financial Crimes”. The process of purchasing new aircraft is commonly referred as ‘Re-fleeting’. A plan to Re-fleet involve months of research and hard work by different teams of airline professionals. Some of the key components of such a plan are; Trend analysis for Passenger & Cargo, Growth Plan for Route Network for next five years, Revenue & Yield forecasts and Financing Plan for re-fleeting including lease options. It is also customary for aircraft suppliers to provide a Deployment and Utilization Plan for their respective aircraft. What has befallen to all the supporting material leading to the Board Paper which approved the purchase of six A330 – 300 and four A350 – 900 aircraft? Who were the authors of such documents? Were these reports prepared after research and an in depth study or were they purpose prepared, to justify the purchases? If the government is serious in establishing the identity of those responsible for the now partially completed Re-fleeting exercise, it should unearth all such reports, plans and their authors. It is bound to shed light to the origins of this disastrous aircraft order and identity of the “unqualified political lackeys” referred to by Minister Hashim.

After 13months in the driving seat, it would not be unkind to carry out at least a superficial scrutiny of what is going on at the haemorrhaging airline and the doings of its present BoD.

Minister Hashim and Deputy Minister Wickramaratne continue to refer to misdemeanours of the Rajapaksa regime even after this government has been in office for one year. It appointed a Board of Inquiry (BoI) headed by Senior Lawyer JC Weliamuna. The final report was submitted on 30 March 2015 with recommendations to investigate serious lapses on the part of former Chairman, BoD and even some senior staff such as Head of Human Resources. Whereas some investigations need be undertaken by the Attorney General, other investigations especially on improper and unjustified recruitment and irregular awarding of Tenders should be undertaken by UL. This BoD has failed to initiate inquiries to any of the improprieties on Recruitment and awarding of Tenders highlighted in the Weliamuna Report.

Those recruited during run up to Presidential elections especially of Nil Balakaya fame and highlighted in the Weliamuna Report continue to be ‘un-gainfully employed’. Despite current staff strength in excess of 7,000 and no clue of the direction in which the company is headed, the present BoD are in the process of recruiting 18 Management Trainees. Several ministerial progenies have applied. A very senior staffer is known to take a very keen interest in the matter as he too is desirous of placing a close relative in the program.

The Chairman has been referring to a ‘restructuring plan’ for almost one year. However, no details of any plan are forthcoming. Six months on, the plan is still pending approval by the government. The initial restructuring plan supposedly consisted of discontinuing all supposedly loss making routes to Europe retaining only London, subsequently amended to withdrawing from Paris and Rome. Current status is to retain UK, Paris and Frankfurt with enhanced frequencies, justification being Frankfurt flights connected best with One World partner carriers from USA. The below graph indicates arrival / departure timings and ground time at respective airports:SriLankan Airlines

Standard Ground Time for wide bodied aircraft varies between 40 minutes and 1 hour 30 minutes depending on flight duration. Based on Ground Time in Frankfurt three times a week, Paris four times a week and Rome three times a week, UL keeps an aircraft parked in these cities for a total of 70.5 hours (2 days and 22.5 hours) weekly or 3,666 hours ( 152.75 days) annually. How does the BoD justify keeping an aircraft costing around USD 250 mil parked at European airports for a staggering 152.75 days annually?

As of late, those in government and UL have suddenly woken up to the fact, the first Airbus A350-900 is due for delivery in June 2016 (now pushed back to September). Would the present BoD who assumed office on 12 February 2015 enlighten the general public of actions they undertook during the last twelve months to address this looming crisis? Had any attempts been made 8 – 10 months ago, could UL have avoided this dilemma? Interestingly, one Director has been paid a retainer of Rs 2 mil and provided with a company maintained vehicle. The same Director has supposedly exceeded his quota of free tickets for personal travel but continues to receive free tickets. This new category of tickets is termed “Tokens of Appreciation”. Unlike staff free tickets which are on Space Available basis, free tickets of Directors and family members are in Business Class on Firm basis, thus often depriving the airline of desperately needed revenue passengers.

The Weliamuna Report highlighted the ambiguity in the awarding of a contract for the Supply and Delivery of Wines and Champagnes to M/S Phoenix Rising Ventures Ltd., a start-up company registered in Canada with no prior experience and a local businessman as its Chairman / MD, in complete violation of Tender / Procurement procedures of UL. The BoI report recommended a complete review of this appointment. Nevertheless, one year after submission of the BoI report, M/S Phoenix still continues to be the supplier. It is hoped Minister Hashim and Deputy Minister Wickramaratne would at least now seek explanation from the Chairman and BoD for the continuation of M/S Phoenix Rising Ventures Ltd., appointed by Rajapaksa henchmen, as a supplier. With such serious matters pending attention, the Chairman was recently seen attending the ITB Tourism Fair in Berlin and an awards ceremony in Delhi, events which should at best be attended by the CEO or Chief Commercial Officer (CCO). His panache for upgrading close friends and donating raffle tickets for Royal functions is now being discussed in the corridors of the East Tower at the WTC.

The BoD at UL seems to have a strange and unorthodox approach towards recruitment and manpower deployment. When turning around loss making companies the world over, the usual modus operandi is for the BoD to recruit a high profile CEO with a proven track record in turning around companies and task the person with the preparation of a suitable Recovery Plan. Once approved by the Board, the CEO is required to put together a management team and proceed with implementation. All these actions will have specified time lines. At UL, having submitted a Restructuring Plan in mid-2015 which is yet to be approved by the government, the BoD proceeded with recruitment of a CEO and CCO. The BoD had been divided in the case of both recruitments. In the case of CEO, it had been a tie of four each and the Chairman supposedly exercised his casting vote to recruit a pilot. His management experience is limited to that of a part time Sectional Manager at Emirates. In the case of CCO, the BoD had been divided three for and five against. BoD decision was overturned by Royal command. The five Directors who voted against the recruitment continue to serve on the Board. The recruitment procedure adopted for both positions leave much to be desired. There were no short lists. The two selected candidates were not subjected to Psychometric Tests as is customary in most reputed companies worldwide. It is believed neither CEO nor CCO have been issued Key Result Areas (KRAs). In such a back ground, one wonders of the basis on which they would be evaluated for confirmation to their positions, at the end of their respective probation periods. That said, it is understood he divided BoD by a majority vote have voted to extend probation period of the CEO which ends on 15 April. The lack of experience in Corporate Governance of Board members is obvious. Only one Director in the present Directorate can boast of hands on experience in an international corporate environment. The others are astute businessmen / lawyers but not corporate leaders with international exposure. It may perhaps be the reason the company now require a Chairman, Executive Director (with pay and perks including company vehicle) and CEO to steer the company, not heard of even during the abusive days of the Rajapaka administration. A former CEO exiled to UK by the Rajapaksa administration after creating a dubious post as Direct Promotions – Europe with a five figure sterling salary recently completed his five year term. He is a grade 13 – a grade reserved for Divisional Heads. His term was recently extended for a further two years albeit a marginally reduced remuneration package. He now functions as Regional Manager Europe based in London which is a Grade 11 position. A question being asked in certain circles is the reason he could not have functioned as Chief Commercial Officer for which he is eminently suited, thus saving millions of rupees. Meanwhile, the former UK Manager who is a grade 10 now functions as Sales Manager, a grade 9 position with a grade 10 remuneration package. The post of Sales Manager was earlier ear marked for the brother in law of a Cabinet Minister, living in UK with no proven skills in Passenger Sales. The appointment has now been stalled and efforts are under way to accommodate him as a Sales Executive in the London office. A Senior Manager due to retire in May is supposed to be appointed as a Consultant for two years due to intervention of a retired politician. It is already causing much heart burn amongst staff.

Last Sunday’s report refers to a decision to provide UL with a life line for another six months. Various options are to be considered, including a possible tie up with another airline. As the writer recollects, a similar exercise in mid 1990s took around two years. The Due Diligence study and preparation of Bid Document took around one year. Meanwhile, the airline underwent a ‘stand still’ situation. All recruitments, promotions, transfers etc. were frozen. To undertake a similar exercise in a six months period, to say the least, is overly ambitious. In the meantime, what does the government and the divided Board intend doing with the Airbus A350-900 aircraft due for delivery commencing September? If they are to be deployed, are new routes being introduced? Or else, are frequencies to be increased in existing routes? If that be the case, are such routes spilling traffic at present? Whatever the case may be, it is hoped the new A350s will not be kept parked at airports around the world with extended ground time.

The time has come for Ministers and UL BoD to stop chattering of the misdeeds of the Rajapaksa regime. Time has come to prosecute the miscreants and get on with the job at hand. Time has also come for All the King’s Asses and all the King’s Men to concede their inability to turn around the airline and hand it over to the private sector.

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Latest comments

  • 7
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    We still sleep on a volcano. Final option of turning to private sector would be the most prudent, given the high profits enjoyed in airline industry globally at present. It can be turned around; not as a public business. Should not miss the last air-bus.

    • 3
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      Srilankan Airlines can consider parnership with the following:
      1. Air Nigeria – The most corrupt airline
      2. Air China – The worst maintained airline
      3. Kingfisher – The worst bankrupt airline
      4. Pakistan Airline – The most grounded airline
      5. Malaysian Airlines – The most diappeared airline
      6. Zimbabwe Airline – The most ageing fleet

  • 13
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    well Ranils Govt has been in power since Jan 2015 and they are still in a ‘sleep’ mode and I dont understand why they have not taken the Weliamuna Report into action looks like Ranil the PM is only interested in securing his position by massaging the Rajapaksa’s secretly

  • 4
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    Spot on Rajeewa! I’m at a loss too as to why there has been no re-structuring plan revealed, so the country knows what’s happening. I understand that a foreign airline consultancy company has been contracted and come up with such a plan, but, apart from the Sunday Times article, nothing has keen forthcoming from UL’s BOD. Why the secrecy? Also, the fact that the Weliamuna Report hasn’t been actioned points to some cover-up activity going on. That order must have had to coce from the very top of the country’s administration. Also, talk about square pegs in round holes! Shame!

  • 3
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    Rajeeva Jeyaweera,
    You are quoting Humpty Dumpty. Here is some quotable quotes a friend of mine send me this morning. Sri Lanka since 1956 went on the wrong path. LKY & his team learnt from the blunders SL, Malaysia,and few other countries made during post colonial /post WWII period.

    Here are two of nominal Buddhist LKY’s
    Gathas :

    “We have to lock up people, without trial, whether they are communists, whether they are language chauvinists, whether they are religious extremists. If you don’t do that, the country would be in ruins.”

    “You know, the cure for all this talk is really a good dose of incompetent government. You get that alternative and you’ll never put Singapore together again: Humpty Dumpty cannot be put together again… and your asset values will be in peril, your security will be at risk and our women will become maids in other people’s countries, foreign workers.”

  • 4
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    Rajeewa

    No one is interested in resurrecting Sri Lankan. It is simply kept for the boys club and for the buddies to enjoy perks.

    Infact at the last week COPE meeting, when the BoD was questioned on CCO recruitment, it was clear that only three members voted for the recruitment and the majority voted against but the candidate was recruited. You can see the type of members on the board!!!

    Cabin crew is having a field day with the agreement signed during MARA regime in full swing and earnings and allowances going through the roof.

    No future without a JV with an Asian or ME carrier.

    Jagath

    • 0
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      Sri lankan should get the A350s and they should go on Australian routs.because there are many sri lankan in Melbourne and sydney and many Australian citizens are likely to travel tropical countries like sri lanka.as a advise management should readjust the sallary scale of some areas.like in cabin crew.they are paid with some high salary like in middle east which is a unnecessary thing.

  • 8
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    Rajeeva,

    Good article i must say. Glad you’ve move past the fact that you were turned down for the post of CCO few months ago. On the other hand its great to see you display your analysis as such above. Well done…

    Few notes on the points you have made above though, you may perhaps have not been aware of.

    The former CEO exiled to UK is hogwash, he chooses to be there by his own accord. In fact he now functions as “Reginal Head- Europe and America” a position once again which was non existant. He still receives his perks etc, the very restructuring that sent him on such assignment was formulated and implemented by him !! Besides even the 6 months he functioned as a temporary CCO he flew back and forth to UK every week or so which is an added cost to the airline. Rumour is he is maintaining stay in UK to get his residency in a short while. Needless to say his brother being a former senior minister with loaded pockets is not reason enough to keep him away. None the less he is a grade 13 staff which is for “Cheif Offiicers” and not division heads as u mentioned which is actually known as grade 12.

    You appear to be slightly misinformed with regard to the Manager UK position. Indeed with mister MG entering as Regional Head based in UK a further country manager is unnecessary, however operationally this individual handles both the sales and country manager duties. Again why when MG is around, perhaps you would know as you seem to think he should be a CCO, one would wonder if he only works as and when he sees fit.

    The senior manager due to retire is the Govt relations man i assume, indeed rumour has it he has had an extension in service, this man has done absolutely no work in the airline for years and continues to draw a massive salary. However he did bow on bended knee and growel at the feet or MR all the while. This man would barely qualify to be a supervisor and quite frankly the comparison too insults supervisors in the airline.

    There is talk of new management trainees, the selection criterion for which is a joke, including any individual who has competed in national level sports. How does a sportsman fit into being a potential leader for the organization???

    Why is there never any mention on what to become of Himin Lanka… does anyone ever bother to check that MJ staff get paid far in exess of UL ?? While MJ makes horrible revenue. The recent transfer of a former politicians campaign manager to head MJ sales has sent them on a nose dive with his plan being to reduce fares by over 50% and resultinf in even lesser revenues. MJ executive level staff are drawing salaries in comparable levels with experienced managers at UL. Not to mention the managers in MJ with evwn larger payments happen to be graded level staff when leaving UL and operate like puppets on a stick.

    Loads to be done. But when will anything be done. It would help if releva t people ever bothered to read these discussions.

    Saman.

    • 1
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      Saman

      Dogs may bark but the caravan moves on….ha ha

    • 0
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      I am sure with your incisive approach you will further expose others such as current Chief commercial, current head of ground services, current manager line stations etc The list goes on and on I hope you are not being selective here

  • 6
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    Well said Saman. Looks like you are keeping a close look at wots happening in UL. Some one reading these discussions will know there are many things to do, and to undo especially after the 8 Jan win.The current management, BOD has done nothing tangible to justify their fat salaries, perks. Keeping a senior manager after he is 60yrs is a crime,for years he has only done was to carry messages after the real work was done by the ticketing and reservation staff or others in commercial.It’s a purely a political favour as he was carrying tickets to both political party members.Again to recruit management trainees at this juncture is pure stupidity,when on one side you are talking of over staffing during last regime.Some of the key positions are still held by people appointed by friends of Sajin Vass.They will want this Govt to fail and are waiting to see a Govt change.CEO and CCO should be held responsible,accountable for this decline.Another airline taking over Sri Lankan will not keep you anywhere near, further to count your bank balances.The staff are saying this company is now a comedy of errors,they do not want to contribute or to suggest, since most of the decisions are made by Management is to further deteriorate this lovely company.With all this flak no one in the BOD or Management has the guts or the balls to explain to masses the real operational issues or to direct the workers.

    • 8
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      What pitiful state this Airline has come to ! Where on earth is the justification of extending the services of this Senior Manager beyond retirement age when he has not contributed in any way towards the Airline’s progress.

      This is the person who joined the Airline as a Cashier with educational qualifications no more than average G.C.E.(O) Levels and continued to be so until the former Chief of Commercial helped him to get into Sales department for reasons best known to him perhaps.

      At Sales all what his did was to visit various Government Departments ostensibly to service their travel needs.However it is no secret that he only used the acquaintances with the relevant parties to serve his own interests.While the management very well knew of the facts they conveniently ignored same as they could use him as their errand boy to get their and their families Passports/visa and other official matters expedited including getting any Fines imposed by Police authorities waived off.

      Subsequently he was posted to Maldives( a service station) as the manager and managed to survive without making any significant contribution to the Airline.
      Upon his return once again he was put in charge of his previous duties and was made a sectional manager.

      His meteoric rise to a Departmental manger and then a Senior Manger was achieved through outside the accepted norms of the company when the review committee established to approve such positions found the job functions did not warrant establishing such senior positions in the cadre.Former Chief of staff of the Rajapakse regime and the Chairman(former) rumored to have been the benefactors for these promotions.

      It is believed that he even managed to get one of his siblings into SRilankan as a management trainee through former Chairman and at times has even boasted that a Former President( not MR) has helped him to get his siblings to a leading Private Buddhist Girls School in Colombo and settled the initial Fees from the Presidents Fund !!! Could this be the power whose help is being sought once again to get the extension ?

      Now the Million Dollar question.If his “services” are going to be extended for further period as a Consultant as claimed what are his job functions going to be ? His known intellectual and managerial capabilities can qualify him ONLY to carry out the job he knows.Be an Errand Boy.Isnt there any one else available.

      Ajith Dias and his co Directors should be ashamed of how they run the Business at SriLankan

  • 1
    0

    This Commercial Venture, SriLankan is the 3rd loss making Government Institution that does not seem to be making any sort of “Turn Around”. The loss as at December, 2015 is reported to be around Rs. 212,000 million. That was the “Inheritance” the present Government got from MR’s regime. The present Government, headed by both RW & MS cannot plead ignorance of that situation, because both of them were in the Legislature, one as the Leader of the Opposition and the other as a key Cabinet Minister respectively. So as Leaders of the Government this matter should have received a very judicious decision of “what to do with it” in the months and years to come.

    Sorry to say, both of them did not pay any attention to the matter. The PM (RW) did the initial mistake of taking things “Lightly” (as usual) and appointed a Board of Directors with a Chairman of “no expertise” on managing such a hugely “DEBT INFESTED” commercial venture. From what they have done up to now, we see that they have done nothing excepting to “carry on” the usual business, but adding to the accumulated loss. That was well proved at their meeting with the COPE. They themselves are not “SERIOUS” of this situation, perhaps they are unable to COMPREHEND as to what to do with this “BUSINESS”. At least they have not taken a SERIOUS LOOK at what that “Waliammuna Report” had said and taken any measures to put things right. In short they are OBLIVIOUS to what has happened and what is going on. Such “dumbness” on their vision and performance is well proven with the recent recruitment of persons to fill “Top Most” positions in the company who would make a “Turn Around”. So what is NEEDED to be done now.

    1. Disband this “Incompetent” Board of Directors comprised mostly of “Buddies” and appoint people of proven trek record in the field of Finance, Legal, Technical, Commercial & Management.
    2. Freeze all Recruitment and do a Manpower Audit and prepare a Manpower Plan.
    3. Undertake a Cost Analysis assessment of all operations.
    4. Do a very thorough study of the route net work and fit in an operational programme that would maximize revenue targets and utilization of equipment. Along with that prepare a Revenue Budget that would take into consideration (a)Passenger (b) Cargo (c) Excess Baggage (d) Mail (e) Non Scheduled Service (f) Ground Handling (g)Duty Free Sales (h)Incidental etc,
    5. The Manpower Plan mentioned in (2) above MUST strictly be related to this REVENUE BUDGET. If the Manpower Audit reveals any “EXCESS” appropriate steps must be taken to disband them.
    6. Look at all the Commercial Agreements, such as GSA appointments overseas and other services and review where necessary and get rid of all uneconomical revenue eating arrangements that are in the system.
    7. The LAST but not definitely the LEAST, “ENLIST” the support of the workforce by way of conducting an INFORMATION SESSION where all the TRUTH has to be divulged with facts and figures with future plans. This INFORMATION SESSION must ultimately be converted to a CONSULTATIVE PROCESS so that all employees will be made PART AND PARCEL of the RESTRUCTURE/FUNCTIONAL PLAN and that step must be GENUINE.

    To do above and handle many other “Turn around” measures, there must be very STRONG LEADER, mind you who can LEAD (I emphasize who can LEAD) industry related person who has a proven record of making a CHANGE. Give that person a free hand in organizing, leading and most importantly BUILDING a TEAM capable of handling all functions of the airline. The suggested collaborative partnership with any other operating airline will not achieve results; but perhaps a “Management Agreement” for a specific period with a team high ranking personnel of “Seconded for Services” could be looked at.That has been proved successful when Air Lanka was floated with the Management Agreement of Singapore Airlines. That could be a good option.

  • 5
    0

    Youy are not the first person to say all this and you will not be the last. But what the hell is Ranil and Co doing about this? Nobody in the Govt is interested of DOING what has to be done to resurrect this Country from the depths of desolation and self destruction that it has sunk to. They are ONLY talking, and talking, and talking. It is so damningly frustrating.

  • 1
    0

    Excess crew and no coke is also a problem

    Well, on one of my travels recently on SL airlines, I found that most of the items given to us as customers are cut down. Though the crew is very apologetic and nice on all my travels on SL airlines, most of the video screens don’t work, seats dirty, rowdy behavior by drunkenness by serving liquor and an always “NO” when we ask for at least a simple card pack or writing pad or a full can of coke. So they are cutting down at least on the card packs and cokes and not the problematic liquor. Wrong options taken.

    But there is something else that bothered me which is excess crew flying. on my recent flight to Bangkok I found a strange crew(man) popping his head through a curtain and the crew very nervous about him. the crew tells me that he is an executive crew who flies on most flights to check on other crew. So I’m told there is a person calling himself manager, supervisors and normal crew and plus this person to do the double checking of crew. Which is added salary and allowances for duplicating work on the plane that has barely anything to be given and in an airline that is trying to be cost cutting. Just like the London and management trainee issue. Unnecessary staff doing “boru” work.

    Yes they are doing the blame game and ignoring the obvious. We are not fools.

    Thank you Rajeewa

  • 1
    1

    Saman

    Below is my response published on 24 January 2016 in these columns.

    “Yes, I did respond to the Press Advertisement for post of CEO. The worthies who drafted the advertisement did not specify an age limit. In many companies, its retirement age does not apply for post of CEO, similar to posts of Chairman and Managing Director. For your information, I was not called for an interview, perhaps as I did not possess a Master’s Degree as required in the advertisement. The matter ended there. No canvassing was undertaken”.

    “Since I uphold the company’s retirement age, I did not apply for post of Chief Commercial Officer. Several others applied for both CEO and COO positions, perhaps due to anomaly in the advertisements”.

    To put matters in perspective, MG was not offered a post at HDQ once his contract as CEO came to an end (though contracted as CEO,he still was a permanent employee of UL). Director Promotions – Europe position was negotiated. Nevertheless it is a form of exile. MG can not be blamed for his desire to be based in London. Given a choice, 99 out of 100 would opt for same. Question to be posed to BoD is, why was MG sent back to London in December 2015 without being told, work as CCO or resign. Regional Head – Europe & Americas has replaced former Grade 11 Regional Manager Europe/ Americas who was based in Frankfurt and resigned recently. He too was responsible for Germany besides responsibilities for Europe & Americas. Former Manager UK was offered post of Manager Germany but he declined and opted to become Sales Manager UK. Fact remains he was pushed up to G10 when he became Manager UK.

  • 0
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    I don’t know what is going on with UL. But What I have found that 18 passengers going on in A340 from Male to Colombo. I was one of that 18. More than 250 seats empty.

  • 0
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    Continuation of my comment on April 03………the following very important step as No. 8 must be added.

    8. Set up a Financial Control System together with an Internal Audit and Performance Assessment unit. No one, even the members of the Board of Directors must be excluded from this “Watch Dog” unit. If anyone is found wanting in complying with the requirements; lacks the expected standard of performance and generating results; measures below set targets; just say “Good Bye” and send the message of “No Nonsense” to each and every one in the organization.

    9. Establish a “REWARD SYSTEM” for bringing in “Innovative Suggestions” that are implemented and results achieved, so that employee participation in the business is complimented and recognized.

    10. Cut down all the GSA agreements; because that has become an “age old” system of the olden days of non availability of “IT” technology, “one World” concepts and “Code Share” agreements. Now everything can be connected to the Home Base on a 24/7 basis and all that “commissions” paid on each ticket sold must be credited to the funds of the company. I remember the ex-CEO giving a media briefing saying that out of 14% gross profit, a 10% has to be paid to the GSAs and only a 4% remains with the company. This must stop.

    • 0
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      Douglas, GSAs
      Don’t talk about it. Colombo is a small city. We the citizens are aware of how former Chairman gave GSAs in Russia, Dubai…and CEO along with a present day GM commercial operations gave nearly 8 GSAs in Far east, Australia all out of tender procedure.The Govt.changed, if not China was about to be given for USD 5 million.(Please refer to Weliamuna report). It was a tradition, for GSAs to pay some CMOs,CEOs.One such former CMO was a thief and a scoundrel who took USD 50k for just for renewing contract.UL is a gold mine for these people and that’s the reason why these guys dont come out and speak openly with their head held high.

  • 2
    0

    Not only SriLankan the whole country is now run by a set of ineffective bunch of big time talkers lead by another ineffective leader. I believe the government’s ultimate move is to close down UL by appointing ineffective people and finally bringing it to a permanent halt.

  • 2
    2

    Sri Lanka does not need a national airline because it has always been misused by the governments in power. A national airline is a national icon of a proud developing country that shows the world what top class management is all about and a country like Sri lanka has no top class management in any sphere.
    Airlines like SINGAPORE AIRLINES, AIR MAURITIUS, AUSTRIAN, SILK AIR, THAI, EMIRATES, ETIHAD, QATAR, are a few of the best managed in the world. They are not misused by the governments they belong to, they are not in service for the sole use of politicians, they are run by round pegs in round holes not square pegs in round holes like SRI LANKAN, they know how to weather the storm, and they are treated with pride, etc etc.
    A little about EMIRATES. On 25th October 1985 EMIRATES took of on its first flight with a leased Boeing 737 & a Airbus A-300B4. These two aircraft were from PAKISTAN INTERNATIONAL. The startup capital was 10 million us dollars and the management was told very frankly not to come back for more. The brains behind EMIRATES was the late sir Maurice Flannagan. It has since remained self financing since the initial investment and the pride of the skies of Dubai. More can be said but the above is enough to understand as to what good management, profitiability, progress and prosperity is.
    Since independence in 1948 nothing that has been govt owned has ever been a profit making venture. One does not need a magnifying glass to see that. The CURSE of that are the politicians who have been dabbling around like evil witches stirring the pot containing the evil smelling deadly brew. The public servants supporting the politicians have too contributed to the witches brew.
    The past mistakes, present mistakes and future mistakes will never be used as a stepping stone to a better and prosperous land.
    Sri lankans as a nation of people will continue to become a lethargic lot in their ways and even in their looks. This is a sad statement to make, sad but very true. One need not fly SRI LANKAN to see it but standing on the side of the road is enough to see the reality.

    Politicians will come, see, rob and go, newspaper and other articles describing the utter mess will come out daily, elections will be held and ” here we go round the mulberry bush ” will continue and the beautifull land will slowly bleed to death. The grand finale to all the merry making will finally crop up and God only knows what the end will be like. Only hope sincerely that it wont be another SYRIA because amongst the bad and evil lot there are a many good people.

    The only solution to SRI LANKAN is to privatise it lock, stock and barrel, while this is very bitter medicine to some, but a cure to others and a shot in the arm to the ailing economy then may those with good intentions go ahead firmly and without hestiatation.
    To prevent the cancer from spreading to the lymph nodes of the body and if survival is a critical choice then a part of the body affected needs to go. If not then death awaits in the shadows to claim the victim.

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    Rajeewa,

    Much as your Article is a very accurate picture of what is taking place at SriLankan , most of the comments made by readers too makes lot of sense.

    The tragedy however is, it does not seem to make any sense to Ranil Wickramasinghe or his cohorts who are managing the Airline.They are only happy in making public statements as to what has gone wrong with the Airline but do not come out with specific plans as to how they intend to either resurrect the Airline or better to close it down without continuing to being a heavy burden on the nation.

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    Rajeev, If you need to re-structure UL (Sri Lankan Airlines) one must do some quick fixes, the present Govt appointed board should have looked at. Let the cost savings be controlled by Finance, revenue, engineering and HR.
    1. Complete revamp of Country managers, appointed by former election campaigner of Sajin Vass, mainly looking after his chosen clan.
    2. Bring back director in UK and appoint him as a Head of non- commercial division, at local package.
    3. Re-audit the one world alliance and see where the revenue drain and opportunities are.
    4. Campaign to motivate and re-kindle the mind set of all work force. CEO/Chairman to speak to all staff.
    5.Insist on UL branding on all transport vehicles hired, out sourced, vans, buses with Sri Lankan Logo and products (if disagreed discontinue contracts and re tender). Has to be all Air-conditioned buses.
    6. Stop Govt. official, law makers’ criticizing the company and neutralize the media of adverse publicity, by company official explaining to masses, with real issues and wrong processes.
    7. Stop recruiting other than critical requests. No promotions and confirmations above Grade 9. NO extensions on contracts & retirements. Be seen as a non-biased but a strictly managing on commercials.
    8. Gain consensus of the board members and to be seen as one voice. If not immediate removal. Harry J should have been there.
    9. Complete re-structure of the Revenue management/capacity control division, in regional clusters with market experienced, flexible and an adaptable team that is proactive, not reactive.
    10. A strong internet business unit with high caliber web design and change team, with innovative rapid liftoff teams, working towards 22% business target.
    11. Suspend all accused in Weliamuna report and set up a strong legal wing to handle such areas.
    12. Have one on one‘s with all G10 and above, by an out sourced consultancy company to garner the real way forward direction towards profitability. (All this while they were forced to act on political and on a corrupt manner for third party needs) Don’t tell them ask them. They are masters in the game.
    13. Treat all staff with honor and dignity. The loyalty and the dedication that these workers can move mountains for you. Why they didn’t all this while? Because they knew the top management and BOD had other selfish motives and they knew the company would end up in this manner.
    14. Finally the Govt. will sell Sri Lankan to another airline and they will do all what is listed above, making the rulers of this country and the workers all cheap good for nothing bunch in Asia.

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