20 October, 2020

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SriLankan Airlines: 2nd Pilot Breathalyzer Case – This Time Pilot Made The Victim

The Executive Committee of the Airline Pilots Guild of Sri Lanka have called for an Emergency Meeting on Monday the 5th of September 2016 after one of its member Pilots is allegedly being victimized by the airline’s management for failing to conform to a breathalyzer test prior to his flights departure.

CEO - Suren Ratwatte

CEO – Suren Ratwatte

The said incident took place last Sunday when senior Capt. Sujith Jayasekara reported for duty to operate his scheduled flight UL 402 to Bangkok.

Security personnel of the airline posted to carry out a breathalyzer test had spoken to Capt. Jayasekara and his co-pilot. At the conclusion of their conversation and with no breathalyzer test being conducted the pilots proceeded to operate their flight.

However as per international norms there was no independent or neutral body present during this period if a breathalyzer test was scheduled to be carried out with neither medical personnel in attendance. No international airline following the ICAO stipulations will have their security personnel carry out a breathalyzer test.

Subsequently much after the aircraft departed, the security personnel then informed the airline’s management that the two pilots had refused to undergo a breathalyzer test.

“This is all a load of rubbish, there was no refusal at all from Capt. Jayasekara’s part and this is a total fabrication of the entire episode. If there is one pilot in our current cadre who is thoroughly conversant with airline and CAA procedures it is Capt. Jayasekara. I can vouch that he will never break any rule ” a senior pilot and a member of the Pilots Guild went on to say.

“If they refused to undergo a breathalyzer test then how were they permitted to operate the flight?” our source went on to ask.

“To make matters even worse the airline’s management then went on to bring back the two pilots to Colombo from Bangkok the next day. This was in order to investigate the complaint made by the security personnel. The airline had to also fly out two other pilots to replace them in Bangkok to complete their original flight pattern. The two pilots in question were then sent to the airline’s Security and Investigations Department to provide a written statement and subsequently the matter had been taken up by the Human Resources Department. Currently the airline identity card of Capt. Jayasekara has been withdrawn and he has been removed of all flying duties pending the conclusion of this investigation whilst his co-pilot is released to resume his duties” he said.

Meanwhile the Director General H.M.C.Nimalasiri of the Civil Aviation Authority when contacted by Colombo Telegraph said “We have not been officially informed by SriLankan Airlines regarding this incident. Therefore we have not suspended their flying licenses”.

A Flight Operations staff member speaking on condition of anonymity as employees of the airline are barred from speaking to the media said “The Manager and other staff members on duty at the Flight Operations Department were privy to the conversation that took place between the security personnel and the said pilots. However the pilots never refused to be tested and also never visibly looked under the influence of any substance. Only an ensuing conversation took place between them and the pilots were sent on their way to operate the scheduled fight UL 402 to Bangkok”.

“Enough is enough. This entire exercise is the management’s response and reactive behavior towards the episode that took place in Frankfurt recently. In that incident it was the Co-Pilots who informed the management of Capt. Upendra Ranaweera appearing to be under the influence of alcohol just prior to departure. It is time that both the politically appointed Chairman and CEO are kicked out of this airline before they decide to target us one by one. We have given this airline everything from our side for many years. It is the successive senior management teams who over the years has screwed this airline and that is why we are experiencing this financial predicament now. Whenever they face issues we are the first who are called in as employees to support them. We have done this for years and have even taken pay cuts and forfeited our increments in support of the airline. Now these two jokers don’t have a bloody clue of how to run an airline. It is the Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe who is made to look a fool at the end of the day by the peurile and unprofessional behaviour caused by his two appointed and trusted lieutenants Chairman Dias and CEO Capt. Ratwatte. As for Capt.Ratwatte, there is nothing extra ordinarily special about his skills to be holding a CEO’s post, besides being an ordinary pilot who went on to work for Emirates Airline. On his last flight on then Air Lanka, he famously said that the national carrier would be shut down the day after his departure. Now nearly 25 years later he returns to make a complete mess of things here. After all he is only transiting in SriLankan Airlines until retirement before he goes to join his family who are domiciled in Melbourne” our source said.

The APGSL has been very vocal in the recent past even going on to brand the politically appointed Chairman Dias and CEO Capt. Ratwatte as being selfish, incompetent and two individuals whom they have lost all faith in, especially with regards to their lack of knowledge, expertise and experience in running of an airline.

The members of the APGSL had earlier called for an emergency meeting to have CEO Capt.Ratwatte ousted when he had tongue lashed the pilots saying he would have them gutted whilst using uncouth language. The members of the APGSL subsequently changed their stance of ousting CEO Ratwatte after he went on to apologize to the pilots for his buffoonish behaviour.

Senior pilots and members of the Pilots Guild went on to say that there has not been any clarity regarding the ordered breathalyzer tests that have been carried out.

“We do not even know who authorized these breathalyzer tests. We are still to be informed officially if these breathalyzer tests were ordered by the CAA or is it just a mechanism that has being introduced internally. Since the Frankfurt incident Capt. Shyler Mendis was the first to be breathalyzed, at which time he made known his objections to the way it was being administered as it did not conform to the norms of the International Civil Aviation Organization. The management was aware of the correct procedure, but however chose to show scant disregard to the ICAO stipulations and continued in the manner they wanted to adapt. The security department conducts the breathalyzer test and they themselves prosecute you. This is a very simple way of how the airline could target and harass any employee if they so chose to do. However in Capt.Sujith Jayasekara’s case, as a senior pilot he was well within his right to ask any question he wished to. Capt. Jayasekara has been a disciplined pilot for many years and with a year and a half to go for retirement it is shocking that the management is treating him in this manner. Ultimately he was never breathalysed and he was permitted to operate the flight by the security personnel. We will vehemently stand by our members and have even requested our Head of Flight Operations Capt. Rajind Ranatunga to support us in this regard, failing which we will take this matter up very strongly. Even the Chairman cannot be contacted at present as he is currently on a private sojourn in Malaysia. Even though he claims that he does not accept a salary from the airline, he was reported to have attended a Royal College OBA function in London, watched test cricket matches at Lords with his friends courtesy Sri Lankan Airlines and was also reported to have been on holiday recently in Seychelles sponsored by the Mihin Lanka’s GSA in Mahe. It is time his honeymoon with this airline comes to an end” concluded a member of the Pilots Guild.

This is the second instance where the national carrier now under Chairman Dias has made a mockery of a breathalyzer test carried out on a pilot.

Earlier SriLankan Airlines’ First Officer Uditha Danwatte was breathalysed ex London Heathrow and was found to be over the legally required limit to operate his flight down to Colombo. The airline then fired him. First Officer Danwatte subsequently pursued his case with the UK authorities and eventually he got himself cleared by them. Chairman Dias then fearing that First Officer Danwatte would file a fundamental rights case against the airline swiftly struck a deal with the pilot. The airline requested him to return his letter of termination and instead offered him a promotion to the rank of Captain to serve the country’s low cost carrier Mihin Lanka.

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  • 12
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    RE: SriLankan Airlines: 2nd Pilot Breathalyzer Case – This Time Pilot Made The Victim

    “Subsequently much after the aircraft departed, the security personnel then informed the airline’s management that the two pilots had refused to undergo a breathalyzer test.”

    This is what happens when one selects Idiots and Morons as security personnel.

    What is their IQ ? 61?

    There are plenty to select, when the national average IQ is 79.

    National IQ Scores – Country Rankings

    http://www.photius.com/rankings/national_iq_scores_country_ranks.html

  • 14
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    Welcome to the wonder of Asia.

    What is wonderful is that the average Sri Lankan is so unimaginative. For heavens sake if you want to mess a pilot up, come up with something original.

    In the first instance we had people pleading on behalf of that idiot who was drunk shitless. Had he flown the aircraft only God knows what would have happened, yet justice was very slow and half hearted in his case.

    In the latest episode however, we have the exact opposite, Pilots who successfully flew the aircraft to Bangkok are being reprimanded amidst a huge drama using trumped up allegations.

    What kind of idiots do we have as managers at Sri Lankan? I would say highly unprofessional going by their financial performance and these silly childish incidents that keep happening all the time.

    Keep it up guys. Keep favoring your cronies and arse-lickers while you victimize those who keep their heads up high.

    Sri Lankan airlines is public property, it belongs to the tax payers of this country, don’t forget that. So called big shots can fall off their high horses in an instance. Remember what happened to Mara. Learn from it.

    Hope I never have to fly Srilankan for any obscure reason.

    • 1
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      [Edited out]

  • 10
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    This is ultimate fault of the air line security personnel he haven’t done his duty regardless. He Is the one should be fired at first instance.

    He doesn’t bother about the passengers safety.does he let the drunken pilot to take charge of the air craft.

    Luckily no fatality thank god.

    But mother Lanka way is different that sec personnel may get promotion.may be cheif sec..

  • 9
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    Batalanda Ranil’s Management Team seems to be at it big time, destroying what ever left of our National Airline.

    And off load it to to Foreigner at a bargain basement price , with a juicy cut.

    How many accidents did this Airline have during the 10 years prior to January 2015?.

    I don’t think the Srilankan Pilots have made any errors even before that to destroy an Aircraft.

    But Batalanada Ranil’s new mates’ Thavailar destroyed the whole Srilankan Fleet.

    Our Lankans have short memory spans.. Pirahaparan is right.

  • 5
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    SriLankan Airlines: 2nd Pilot Breathalyzer Case – This Time Pilot Made The Victim

    Again the UL goes the dogs. Why can’t the higher officials put the full stop to his. Does UL like to continue with the black remarks on them. Take stern action, and let all the staff sign a new agreement, that if found drunk while on duty, he/she can be terminated then n there. No word for a second question.

  • 6
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    So this is proof that Pilots of Sri Lankan have the extra skill to operate planes even in a state of inebriation.

  • 14
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    The above article refers to the Sri Lankan Airlines CEO as Capt Suren Ratwatte as follows.
    “As for Capt.Ratwatte, there is nothing extra ordinarily special about his skills to be holding a CEO’s post, besides being an ordinary pilot who went on to work for Emirates Airline. On his last flight on then Air Lanka, he famously said that the national carrier would be shut down the day after his departure. Now nearly 25 years later he returns to make a complete mess of things here. After all he is only transiting in SriLankan Airlines until retirement before he goes to join his family who are domiciled in Melbourne” o

    Now look what BLOOMBERG one of the world renowned and highly respected media giant which delivers business and markets news, data, analysis, and video to all corners of the globe has to say about the CEO Caot Suren Ratwatte.

    ” Mr. Suren Ratwatte joined Emirates in 1989. He was part of the first batch of Emirates crew to qualify to fly this huge aircraft. He is a well-renowned airline pilot with over 30 years of experience in the aviation industry. He began his career at Air Lanka in 1984 and thereafter joined Emirates in 1989, where he held several positions in the company. He has obtained a total of 18,000 flying hours and has operated a variety of different aircraft including the Boeing B-777 and Airbus A-380. He has a wealth of international and local experience and is a well-known Human Factors researcher and practitioner. Mr. Ratwatte holds a Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. He is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and the author of several published works.”

    Capt Suren Ratwatte and Capt Seyed Hashim are the only two Captains of Sri Lanka origin who flew the giant Airbus A380 which carries a load of around 450 passengers and the latter it was reported was given the privilege of piloting the Emirates Air Bus A380 from Paris to Dubai when it was first delivered to the Airline.
    Sri Lanka should be proud and consider it an honour that Capt Ratwatte was chosen to be a Captain of the Air Bus A380 by Emirates now considered the number 1 airline in the world and it was due to the measure of confidence they had with his skill and ability that he may have been picked for the task and responsibility of carrying over 400 passengers under his care and supervision.So calling him just an “ordinary pilot” is an absolute misnomer.

    So instead of throwing mud at Capt Suren we should appreciate the fact that he has returned to his land of birth to serve the Nation’s Airline as its CEO and we should wish him well

  • 12
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    Dear Collin,
    It may be best to educate your self prior to commenting on another’s qualifications. Suran Ratwatte was only a line pilot and yes indeed based on his seniority at Emirates was in the first batch that was trained on the A380. Bedsides him being being a a the chief facilitator for CRM at emirates where he was subsequently replaced has had no important positions as a pilot i.e. Instructor etc. He has zero management experience in any administrative operational role. There are at present Sri Lankan pilot much junior to him who are instructors at Emirates.
    Please don’t attempt to justify a political appointment for an individual who has zero experience even as a manager who had been appointed as a CEO.
    His only qualification besides his brothers connection to the PM is his arrogance to cover his ignorance and lack of achievement as a pilot.

    • 13
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      I quoted from Bloomberg which gave this description of Suren and not my words.. So whatever you say Bloomberg has a better international reputation than a few words from you, and it is a well quoted media institution,so why dont you write to Bloomberg and refute what they have published without using me as your scapegoat.. Its you word against Bloomberg and the discerning public will decide who has more clout,you an individual or Bloomberg a worldwide media network.

    • 2
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      Definitely written by someone from the Pilot’s Guild or Flight Attendants Union.But, maybe there is an iota of truth in that simply being a good Pilot does not necessarily make one a good Administrator. The best example being Rakkitha Wickramanayake, the first Air Lanka Chairman.

      On the other hand the Pilot’s Guild has for too long dictated terms to the management of the Airline at various times.The management too should stop targeting the Guild which in turn only make them seem like “special” human beings.

    • 9
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      What would you call lack of achievement? Can you give us some achievements made by Pilots of Sri Lankan? And I can laugh when Pilots say that they have sacrificed so much for the Airline. Bloody bullshit.

      What about the poorly paid office staff who travel every week day to work and back? Most of them spend at least three hours on the road just to get to work and back.

    • 0
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      @Flight Anil
      Your avatar on CT is obviously the wrong colour. It should be green.

      Do feel free to correct me but buried in your green-tinted post is a claim that somehow a persons seniority is wrong and should not count for anything ???????

      Next time a position, perk, bonus or increment comes up for you based on your years of service to your employer, I do hope you will put your money where your mouth is and refuse it !

  • 6
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    Ranil, Malik, Charitha, Royalist Mafia in action!!!

    • 7
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      You could add to the Royalist “MAFIA” Kabir,Ravi,Rauf,Swaminathan,Mangala and Dinesh too although in the JO and not forgetting Wiggy but this Mafia is unlike the Sicilian Mafia, a Mafia with a good motto and goals.
      M :Majority
      A: Are
      F: For
      I:Integrating
      A:All communities
      “majority are for integrating all communities”
      Its probably what they must have learnt at Royal where it is said all communities whether they be Sinhalese,Tamils,Muslims,Burghers all integrate beautifully. The country needs this policy too so that we can all go as Sri Lankans under our National Flag and move forward to make our motherland a land of “milk and honey”

    • 1
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      Definitely written by someone from the Pilot’s Guild or Flight Attendants Union.But, maybe there is an iota of truth in that simply being a good Pilot does not necessarily make one a good Administrator. The best example being Rakkitha Wickramanayake, the first Air Lanka Chairman.

      On the other hand the Pilot’s Guild has for too long dictated terms to the management of the Airline at various times.The management too should stop targeting the Guild which in turn only make them seem like “special” human beings.

  • 9
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    Why,now all these problems coming out.. during Jarapakshsya time piloting under influence is normal? …

  • 2
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    Dear Collin,
    Where exactly in the bloomberg article does it say specifically that he has had any experience in administration? Positions are common to all pilots in any airline. The decerning public is probably a bit more intelligent to acertain the source referred in the bloomberg article.it is not a question of clout but common sense. Suggest you do some research before displaying your ignorance by commenting in a area and a individual you are obviously not conversant with in a public forum.

    • 7
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      RIGHTSAND RESPONSIBILITIES OF A FLIGHT CAPTAIN (from the Lufthansa training web site)

      A Flight Captain is responsible for the safety and security on board his aircraft as well as for the safe and on-time operation of the flight. In this connection, lawmakers provide for measures that allow Flight Captains to prevent situations, that could be dangerous for passengers and crew, from occurring.
      What specific measures are Flight Captains allowed to take for this purpose? What means can they use? Are they responsible for damages if they act negligently? These and many other questions are of great significance in connection with the duties of a captain. Good knowledge of the law helps pilots evaluate dangerous situations in the cockpit correctly and make appropriate decisions.

      AQS (Aviation Quality Services) – a wholly-owned subsidiary of LFT – supports pilots and managers in flight operations with the two-day refresher training course “Rights and Duties of a Captain.”

      More information – here
      The training topics include:
      Basics of the relevant legal systems (EU-OPS, EASA-OPS, LuftBO)
      The onboard and nautical authority and responsibilities of the Flight Captain
      Implementation of the airline’s regulations
      Position of the Flight Captain within an airline management system
      Solving problems in view of legal considerations
      Exchange of experiences

      My friend you will observe the training includes a)Basics of the legal system b)Implementation of the airlines regulations c) solving problems in view of legaal considerations e) Exchanges of experience.Isnt this part of management?
      So from this we gather the Captain of an Airline doesnt merely have the knowledge of piloting a plane but has to be competent in some forms of
      management

    • 5
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      Seems like you have lost your temper, “FLIGHT ANIL.” I wonder what administrative experience the Ex-Co (or committee or whatever they call) people in the Pilot’s Guild have?

    • 1
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      @Flight Anil

      So, what do YOU fly ?

      What is your rank ? How many years/hours experience?

      What types of aircraft ? rating ?

      What is your position within the airline ? The CEO or just a chokka line-pilot ?

      Do tell… Since it is obvious you know so much – I for one am agog with expectation !

      Dazzle me !!!!

  • 0
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    If the facts given in the article are corect, especially as regards the Security establishment’s involvement in testing the Pilots concerned; why on earth did they (Security) not prevented those pilots operating the flight? First they must be taken to task. Next, did they not bring this to the notice of the Flight Operating Management, then and there and appropriate measures taken to conduct a proper check by the Medical personnel. If anyone refused to subject to an appropriate test no one should have been allowed on board. Haven’t this STUPIDITY on the part of the Security Division, put the entire flight at risk. On the other hand the Civil Aviation cannot “look the other way” and say; “this matter has not been brought to my attention”. Now this STUPIDITY and IRRESPONSIBILITY of the Security and Flight Operations Management have been very well confirmed by the action taken by the Human Resources in withdrawing the Identity Cards and suspending them from further flight operations. Will the ICAO too “look the other way” and allow this airline to operate in the international aviation? I doubt it. It is sufficient for any one passenger to register a complaint against the airline and demand an “Inquiry”. Who knows it would be forthcoming. I believe, it must happen and then only these so called “EXPERIENCED”, “BIG WIGS” will learn the bitterest lesson.

  • 6
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    Please don’t find fault with poor security folks, they are at the bottom end of the chain, it’s like blaming an ordinary PC when rich and powerful get away. I am sure that it’s common knowledge that Breathalyser tests need not be carried under medical supervision, if a breathalyser indicates positive, then medical professionals are called to verify that by checking blood alcohol

    These Captains may have their reasons for objecting, but shouldn’t it have been comply and complain since all pilots have been informed of impending breathalyser tests?

    Douglas, is over reacting. These tests are not mandatory, ICAO knows better, not carrying out a spot check is not a safety violation, it is a safety issue only if the pilots were suspected to be under the influence

    This is nothing to do with mismanagement, this is pilots flexing their muscle, or are these mere convulsions before the airline breathes its last very soon

  • 1
    1

    Roshan: I am not over reacting. I said, if the facts are correct, the Security who initiated this check on the operating flight crew of that particular flight definitely blundered. If they even had a “suspicion” or when requested, the operating pilots refused such checks, they should have immediately contacted the Flight Operations on duty and the matter would have been appropriately handled. Why they were allowed to operate the flight at all when they have violated the standing orders? Do you see any reasoning behind the action taken to withdraw the identity and bring them back as “non operating crew” on their return flight. Was their “incapacity” to operate the return flight confirmed by any means at the departing station? Why the Management had to send another crew to bring back the flight that which should have been left to be operated by the suspended crew? Judging by this scenario, I am compelled to surmise that the whole matter from the start at Security has been bungled and left many an unanswered questions as regards “Safety” issues. I am not on anyone’s side; but assessing facts as presented. This exposure will definitely impact the operations (safety, reliability, public confidence and its image) of the Airline and that is what everyone has to consider and be responsible in Management from top to bottom. I agree with your question viz. “Are these mere convulsion before the airline breathes its last very soon”. It is sad for all of us,if it happens.

    • 5
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      Douglas
      This was a random spot check according to the news report. Not based on any suspicion. The crew were suspended for refusing to submit to the random spot check and they may have been brought back to face disciplinary charges. It seems that their capacity to fly the plane has never been under question, if it would have been other crew members would have stepped down or blown the whistle like on Frankfurt. There are no safety issues here, mountain to molehill by you Nihal. It’s simply an industrial relations issue, caused by an individual hell bent on destroying the airline it seems.

  • 2
    2

    Colombo Telegraph is getting more and more irresponsible in their reporting, specially when they have an ulterior motive. CT seems to have made the situation worse for the pilots by splashing their names all over the internet.

    What seems to have happened here is that there is an official investigation going on based on certain allegations made by the security personnel.

    Bringing the subject pilots back with immediate effect to carry out the investigation is standard procedure.

    Meanwhile all those who have fish to fry are going to town !

    No one who is qualified will EVER come back to the debacle of Asia to even try to help….not because of anything except the UNADULTERATED JEALOUSY that is inherent to society.

  • 1
    0

    What is this talk? ..Pilots fly under protests,How safe are we in the plane with the Pilot all enraged by some perceived selective treatment? ..Or is this a ruse just to make the lowly cancel our flights to make room for the free bee VIPs , Anything is possible ..

  • 0
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    Roshan
    If there would have been fatality who you going to blame.tha CEO…or this inefficient sec personnel.

    Luckily nothing has happened.so he managed to slip through.can a suicider do the same or bribe him….

  • 0
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    Flight Anil …you are “spot on” with your analysis addressed to “Dear Colin” with regards to Capt Suren Ratwatte. His so called management skills are restricted to the cockpit only &not further. If he was doing so well with Emirates & much sought after why has he joined this ailing airline ?? Probably due to the massive package he could not even dream of at Emirates but now manipulated through his brother CharithaRatwatte who is a close friend & confidante of the PM. He himself has admitted that he is not a “numbers person” in a previous interview. Is this the type of CEO that this airline needs at this point. ??
    Capt. SujithJayasekera who is now the victim is well known in the airline circles to be one of the most experienced , knowledgeable & disciplined pilots the airline has ever had. He has had an unblemished aviation career of 43years of which 27years has been with the National Carrier.His discipline probably stems from his years in the SLAF fighting the war & thereafter being the VIP pilot for the then President Premadasa before joining the National Carrier. He is well known to be fearless & a very vocal critic at management meetings when decisions which were detrimental to the airline was made which obviously bothered the incompetent Chairman Dias & CEO Ratwatte. Hence them targeting Capt. Jayasekera was imminent in any possible way.
    Think of all the dedicated Senior staff who have been with this airline through thick & thin, in bad times & good times coping with all the politicizing & the stooges of the regime..
    It is a fact that this regime inherited an airline with huge losses made by the earlier regime due to poor decisions made with regard to aircraft purchases etc. which has resulted in the European routes making losses & sadly the traditional routes dominated by the National Carrier from its inception being shut down. The government should have taken this matter up for serious discussion & appointed a team capable of turning the airline around & not appoint an incompetent Chairman & a management team who does not have the management skills nor the depth of aviation knowledge required.
    So is it a surprising when they target experienced senior staff who have the knowledge & the guts to call a spade a spade making the management look incompetent idiots. It is understood that most Board decisions are divided as a few of the Board members who do have management/aviation experienceare are not in favour of the decisions made by this incompetent Chairman.

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