Colombo Telegraph

SriLankan Airlines: CEO Capt. Ratwatte Bungles PIA Wet Lease Deal And Now Wants To Fly As A Pilot

After Bungling the Pakistan International Airlines wet lease deal which cost the debt ridden national carrier SriLankan Airlines a further whopping sum of over US $ 15.9 million, the airline’s CEO Capt. Suren Ratwatte‘s new year resolution for 2017 now is to go back to flying an aircraft as a pilot.

The self-proclaiming CEO Ratwatte who once boasted of being the first Sri Lankan national to fly the commercial Airbus A380 aircraft whilst being employed at Emirates Airline, now wants to fly the smaller narrow bodied Airbus 320 aircraft instead.


However the Airline Pilots Guild of Sri Lanka has now vehemently opposed the CEO’s move to fly as a pilot.

In a strongly worded five point article published in the APGSL’s newsletter on the 19th of December 2016, the following concerns had been raised.

1. Undue strain on the accompanying technical crew due to obvious reasons, including the possibility of the other crew member being reluctant to discuss decisions made by Mr. Ratwatte even if safety risks are pertinent.
2. Will have a higher level of authority when compared to other pilots.
3. Productivity as a CEO drops when carrying out duties and responsibilities as a pilot.
4. Similarly the discharging of duties as a pilot would be affected by the strain of being a CEO.
5. Delays the upgrade of a permanent cadre pilot who has a longer service period.

A bold statement at the end of the message also begged the question if a fair process will be implemented in interviewing the CEO. It read “Will the CEO be subjected to the rigorous interview and assessment procedure applied by the company on other applicants”.

A member of the Airline Pilots Guild of Sri Lanka when contacted by Colombo Telegraph said ” What is this bullshit now he wants to do? It’s better if the CEO Capt. Ratwatte go ‘Flies Uncle Charlie’s Kite’ instead. It seems like he is now fed up of riding his bicycle. The airline recruited a full time CEO not a pilot. Is the company doing so well that you don’t need a CEO at the helm? The protem CEO and Board Director Rakhitha Jayawardena was making steady progress running the airline with the hope of turning its profits from red to black. It was an arduous task.But there was some progress being made. After all Rakhitha Jayawardena is a businessman and it is disappointed he was not given a chance to showcase his skills on behalf of the airline. We were doing fine until Capt. Ratwatte was parachuted in. Perhaps the rest of the Board of Directors thought it’s better to send the inefficient CEO back to flying. Even his recruitment to this post is laden with corruption. He was never a management pilot either in the first place. Despite being a cost to the airline rather than being an asset, the airline would now have to incur over US $ 50,000 to train him on the Airbus 320,an aircraft, which he has never flown before. Maybe his backup plan is to get this license and go to Australia where his family currently is at the moment. This is in the event the airline is privatized and he finds himself unemployed”.

Meanwhile the recruitment and absorption of pilots from the now shut down budget carrier Mihin Lanka has also raised many questions.

The notorious shoplifter Capt. Pujitha Jayakody who has been evading arrest in Singapore has now been recruited by SriLankan Airlines. Prior to joining SriLankan Airlines from Mihin Lanka, Capt. Jayakody was also employed by Jet Airways in India. Sources from within Jet Airways speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed that Capt. Jayakody had requested not to be scheduled any flights to Singapore whilst he was employed in India. He had stated that he had impregnated a woman in Singapore and that the lady had filed charges in court demanding maintenance for the child.

However now with Capt. Rajind Ranatunga at the helm of of Flight Operations at SriLankan Airlines, it could be safely established that Capt. Jayakody would continue to be protected and not scheduled to operate any flights to Singapore in the future.

On the contrary Capt. Uditha Danwatte who was seconded to Mihin Lanka from SriLankan Airlines earlier, along with a command position has been overlooked.

He is now currently unemployed.

Many aviation professionals in Colombo being in the knowledge of what actually happened in Capt.Uditha Danwatte’s case have now begun to start crying foul.

It was reported earlier that Capt.Danwatte who when as a co- pilot was once breathalyzed in London Heathrow by local UK officials prior to departure and found to be under the influence of alcohol. He was subsequently terminated by SriLankan Airlines.However fighting his own case Capt. Danwatte got his drunken charge overturned in London UK, which then left the Board of Directors of SriLankan Airlines in a right royal pickle.However the Board of Directors got the Head of Human Resources Pradeepa Kekulawala to intervene and a deal was negotiated with Capt.Uditha Danwatte prior to him filing charges against SriLankan Airlines for unlawful dismissal. The Board of Directors requested Capt. Danwatte to return the termination letter and in return offered him a promotion as a Captain instead with employment at Mihin Lanka. Now with Mihin Lanka being wound up and with majority of pilots being absorbed into SriLankan Airlines, the Board of Directors have decided to not recruit Capt.Danwatte. ( By Janaka Ranaweera )

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