Amidst prevailing tension mounting between the Management of SriLankan Airlines and the Airline Pilots Guild of Sri Lanka which even warranted the intervention of the country’s President Maithripala Sirisena, Capt. Sujith Jayasekara’s services with the national carrier was terminated yesterday, barely a week prior to the conclusion of his year ending contract.
The Pilots Guild meeting the President of the country on behalf of Capt.Jayasekara only served to precipitate his termination, despite President Sirisena’s assurance to the ALPGSL that he would help resolve their existing disputes with the airline’s management, one of which was the unfair treatment meted out to their fellow pilot Capt. Jayasekara.
Capt. Sujith Jayasekara a senior pilot, who served the Air Force during the civil war, went on to serve SriLankan Airlines as a commercial pilot in an overall aviation career that spanned over four decades. He will now be deprived of many benefits by the management of the airline which is accorded to those who serve until retirement.
His termination is viewed by members of the Pilots Guild as an act of pure vindictiveness which was orchestrated by premier Ranil Wickremesinghe’s appointees Chairman Ajith Dias and the CEO Capt. Suren Ratwatte and supported by Capt. Rajind Ranatunga the Head of Flight Operations.
Incidentally Capt. Sujith Jayasekara is the third pilot who has lost employment since the Yahapalanaya government took control of the country.
The other two Pilots Capt. Charles Sirimanne and Capt. Uditha Danwatte of Mihin Lanka, which comes under the purview of the SriLankan Airlines management, along with Capt. Sujith Jayasekara have now been punished for highlighting mistakes made by the management of the airline.
Whilst Capt.Sujith Jayasekara questioned a flawed breathalyzer test procedure that was carried out, Capt. Charles Sirimanne pointed out a life threatening safety violation that Mihin Lanka was deliberately overlooking on their flight into Seychelles. In Capt.Uditha Danwatte’s case the airline’’s management made such a serious blunder, they went on to prematurely terminate him wrongfully for an alleged fault he was eventually cleared of by UK authorities. Fearing that Capt.Danwatte would prosecute the airline due to the utter dismal decision made by the management of the airline, he was recalled by the Head of Human Resources Pradeepa Kekulawala who offered the then First Officer the rank of a Captain and a posting with Mihin Lanka to compensate for their blunder. He accepted his command title and took the post. Subsequently with the two airlines’ merging with the closure of Mihin Lanka, many pilots were absorbed into SriLankan Airlines barring Capt. Uditha Danwatte. Now whilst the management of the airline continues to violate the country’s Air Navigation Act 208/209 by providing expatriates jobs as pilots whilst depriving many Sri Lankan nationals employment, Capt. Uditha Danwatte has gained employment elsewhere with a foreign airline.
A member of the Pilots Guild speaking to Colombo Telegraph in anonymity as he is not permitted to speak to the media said “ In order to cover their tracks, the management of the national carrier opted to silence these flyers forever. If the Management could have acted so swiftly disregarding even our country’s President Maithripala Sirisena, then this proves that they could do whatever they want. How can Chairman Ajith Dias disrespect our President Maithripala Sirisena? Who is he to do that? This is a dangerous precedent that he has now set. I am surprised that Ministers Kabir Hashim and Nimal Siripala De Silva along with the Director General of the Civil Aviation are turning a blind eye to all of this. Nowhere in the world do you find any airline terminating their pilots for highlighting management mistakes. We are certainly extremely very disappointed with our Chairman Ajith Dias and CEO Capt. Suren Ratwatte and our Head of Flight Operations Capt. Rajind Ranatunga who have now simply lost the plot”.