Just a week after local newspapers exposed SriLankan Airlines Chairman, Nishantha Wickremasinghe for ordering a Colombo bound aircraft from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore just to pick him up en route it has now been revealed that he had once again intervened to change another flight.
The Sunday Times reported that a SriLankan Airlines flight from Colombo to Paris was supposed to wait until a tour group of some 80 passengers going to the French capital arrived from the Maldivian capital of Male, but had suddenly taken off after “an influential crew member” had intervened.
“However after a short wait, it suddenly took off without the inbound passengers from Male. The 80 tourists were transferred to other carriers,” the Sunday Times report said.
“The talking point on the corridors of the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) was whether an “influential” flight crew member with connections to the top telephoned a big wig and said the long wait is troubling her. Instructions came for the flight to take off for Paris immediately” the newspaper reported.
Colombo Telegraph can now reveal that the flight crew member in question who made the impatient telephone call was Chathurika Muhandiramge. According to SriLankan Airline sources she is intimately involved with Chairman Nishantha Wickramasinghe. She had put a phone call through to the Chairman to ask him to order that the flight take off ahead of schedule to Paris.
The cost of rerouting the 80 passengers from Male on other flights would have had to be borne by Sri Lankan Airlines and therefore by the Sri Lankan tax payer since the airline is operating at a massive loss.
Recently Wckramasinghe diverted a commercial UL flight to Singapore to have himself, his wife and a guest picked up from Singapore’s Changi Airport. Telephoning the airline, Wickramasinghe ordered that the scheduled SriLankan direct flight from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia to Colombo be diverted to Singapore so that he and his entourage could be picked up on the way, the Sunday Times reported last week. This was because Wickramasinghe could not wait for the scheduled SriLankan flight from Singapore to Colombo that was to take off from Changi in just two hours. The National carrier has been running in to hundreds of millions of rupees of losses since its management was taken back from Emirates Airlines by the Rajapaksa Administration. Wickramasinghe is the elder brother of First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa and has no experience or formal education that qualifies him to be the head of an airline.