25 May, 2019

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SriLankan Airlines Hospitality @ Lord’s

By Rajeewa Jayaweera

Rajeewa Jayaweera

Rajeewa Jayaweera

The national carrier SriLankan Airlines operated an eighteen seater Flysmiles Hospitality Booth at Lord’s Cricket Grounds in London on Friday, 10 June and Saturday, 11 June during the third test match between England and Sri Lanka. Free food and drinks had been served to invitees. A group photograph which contained former cricketing greats Sidath Wettimuny, Aravinda de Silva, Sanath Jayasuriya, Kumar Sangakkara, cabinet minister Arjuna Ranatunga and cricket commentator Ranjith Fernando besides the Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Commercial Officer of SriLankan Airlines has been published in the media.

The published cost of a hospitality booth at Lord’s for the England Sri Lanka test match was GBP 5,000 per day for first three days and GBP 3,000 per day for last two days. The hospitality booth had been obtained by SriLankan Airlines head office free of charge on one day and at a cost of GBP 5,000 less member’s discount by courtesy of the Chairman on the other day. Cost of food, beverages and Champagne was paid for separately.

The airline granted 14 free return air tickets to London for members of the Foundation of Goodness dance troupe, an MCC supported charity project in Sri Lanka. They performed at the Westminster Concert organized by Lord Mayor of London and sponsored by MCC. Cost of 14 return air tickets to London including opportunity costs would amount to more than GBP 5,000 booth rental for a day.SriLankan Airlines Hospitality Box Lords

Friday had been assigned to the London office to entertain their guests. Saturday had been utilized by head office for corporate entertainment.

Considering the deepening financial crisis faced by the airline, some are heard to criticize this exercise as extravagant and wasteful.

There is nothing wrong in conducting hospitality suites during important events such as trade fairs and sporting events, provided they are conducted in a manner beneficial to the organization. In fact, such exercises make an important part of promotional programs in many companies, especially loss making concerns striving to return to profitability.

However, a few issues need be highlighted. In order to derive maximum benefit from such an investment, invitees to hospitality suite need be decision makers in the hospitality industry and corporate houses besides members of media. They should not be friends and relatives of top management, visiting ministers / politicians and cricket board officials. The scrutiny of the eighteen invitees who enjoyed the hospitality of SriLankan Airlines on each day, especially on Saturday, 11 June will establish if the expenses for this exercise can be justified.

The management need to justify travel expenses for three senior officials to London, especially in view of an experienced senior staffer, also a former CEO of the airline being present in London. From that perspective, it would appear at least two officials from head office were in London on a joy ride.

Cost saving measures should not be limited to depriving Pilots of annual increments, suspension of overnight crew layovers, to name a few. It also applies to curbing overseas travel of all concerned, unless absolutely necessary.

Lastly, one wonders of the whereabouts of the sometimes talked about Director Europe based in London in charge of the European offices including the London office. It is not customary for promotional events of this scale to be held without the person in charge of the country office, who in theory is also the host. It is he or she who maintains and continues contact with those invited, once head office mandarins have returned home. It is understood, Director Europe had entertained invitees from the travel trade on Friday and was not present on Saturday to meet and greet corporate invitees. The absence of Director Europe in the hospitality booth on Saturday is akin to a performance of Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark!

The non-Executive Chairman draws a handsome per diem for attending board meetings besides a full time chauffeur driven vehicle and other perks from the airline. He is involved in operational decisions, present at all important events both at home and abroad and makes all Media announcements. The Chief Executive Officer recruited in October 2015 draws a monthly remuneration package of several million rupees besides a chauffeur driven vehicle and other perks. Under the circumstances, it is mind boggling to understand the role played by the CEO. For all intent and purposes, it would appear the non-Executive Chairman plays the role of a de facto CEO and the CEO, the role of a supernumerary CEO and paid millions for his efforts.
Considering the role played by the Chairman, it is also poor corporate governance for the three key management personnel of the airline i.e. Chairman, CEO and CCO to be away from the country at the same time.

These are not signs of a sinking airline struggling to survive bankruptcy. These are signs of merry making at the top while the plane is heading south, in an uncontrolled tail spin.

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Latest comments

  • 9
    20

    Mr Jayaweera
    What are you trying to say.
    Is it not the norm for any corporation trying to sell their goods to advertise. What is wrong in Srilankan airlines doing that, Is it because you or any of mahinda people were invited?
    I saw the match in TV and saw Srilankan airlines booth, not only me a lot of my british associates and believe it or not some didn’t know there was a srilankan airlines may be they will consider patronizing it.
    If you are complaining about the guest list, well your people did it when they were managing why not the present management? AS long as they don’t go to the same extent as your people of diverting flights for the convenience of the mistresses or transporting poodles for the ministerial secretaries.the cost of this exercise is pea-nut compared to what the previous chairman spent his conquests.

    • 6
      7

      Proudman,

      I beg to differ.

      ‘Corporate hospitality’ is a way of saying thank you to VIP customers but is not a direct revenue earner in the short term on a cost / benefit basis. Therefore, a cash strapped company would avoid such extravagance & concentrate on more direct ways of increasing turnover in the short term. Just because the previous Management squandered funds doesn’t mean that the successors are entitled to do so in a smaller scale. The new management was brought in to turn round the company & they have a responsibility, in this case, to the tax payers of SL who are paying for all this. If unable to show profits within a reasonable time, which should be determined by the Govt., the entire Board & Senior Management should resign gracefully, or be sacked, for not doing their job.

      A brand displayed prominently may create an awareness but does not mean extra business. In this age of the Internet, people are able to make a choice on the standards, service provided, cost, etc by comparing with competitors. So this is just another ‘boys outing’ at the cost of the tax payer.

    • 4
      0

      Just as a matter of interest. , how much profit did. S. L airlines make on this venture Or was it a complete loss for the airline Any information. ????

      • 4
        2

        You decide. They are cutting services to Europe so …. yes. You decide

    • 1
      0

      The new Senior Management are up the task of turning around the airline in the most efficient way. For starters, claiming competition from other airlines they have decided to close operations to Germany and France. The two countries account for over 150,000 tourists every year. Now the hoteliers will be at mercy of those airlines in the Gulf. They are doing a great job because the airline continue to lose money despite fuel price drop by more than 60%. They probably are saying that it is very easy to satrt and keep something going but very difficult to close it. Professional management task is to complain of what others are doing and either do nothing about it or just close the business. This is the pinnacle of professionalism.

  • 9
    5

    /Considering the deepening financial crisis faced by the airline, some are heard to criticize this exercise as extravagant and wasteful./

    Just imagine…..

    With all the scrutiny around from the government, media and people, and the limited ability to cook the books, the company still does it.

    Imagine how wonderfully the Kurakkan Samagama and the cronies would have burnt away the hard earned money of Sri Lankans in the past!!

  • 5
    5

    Nawa Gilunath Baanchuun!- Enjoy even if the ship is sinking.The motto of most Sri Lankan Politicians and their Handpicked Officials.

    Meanwhile their masters, the people, subjected to VAT increases and Sapa Vidinawa Ganwathuray Gilunath – Happy even if drowning in the floods.

    WinWin situation.

  • 12
    2

    All this is made possible because of the personality and nature of the top leadership.

    We all know the abuse of power by the Rajapakse family who treated their time in power like an incredible party ,food, wine, and huge ego massages.

    The same goes for Yahapalanaya too.

    Has anybody counted the number of foreign trips by Ranil Wickramasinghe , number of days overseas, hotels stayed in, food eaten etc, etc.Mind you most of these years he was in the opposition and therefore cannot argue it was part of his work. Even in old Sri Lanka it is only five star hotels for him.

    Now we see chaps like Mangala, cunning no doubt, but finally a fashion designer, going to all the major cities of the world and making an ass of himself.

    He tries to give the impression that we are so important that if we decide to leave the Commonwealth the whole world will go into a financial crisis!( Like bretix!)

    We as a people .are too humble to question the doings of those in power or everyone of us will do the same thing if we come into power.

  • 8
    2

    Srilankan Airlines may have fed mostly Srilankan politicos,hangers-on,ex-cricketer’s etc when money may have been better spent to market the airline to potential customers.

    Drance troupe’s are so 1990’s.Outdated.

    May have been better if Srilankan management took their blinkers off and had a hopper stall in this age where all are interested in food.
    The lady who runs a hopper shop in London perhaps next time.

  • 1
    0

    Profilgate airline (2) so government tax us more to keep it in the air.

  • 10
    3

    Rajeewa,

    at least have a sympathetic view on inclusion of CCO for this event for it would have given him a chance to visit his family and other interest in UK though at the expense of Tax payers of this country.

  • 9
    5

    Usually rats are seen deserting a sinking ship. Not with SriLankan!

    The rats are going about rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Another case of the ship insinking but the band plays on….and on…on.

    PS: How ironic of the The FlySmiles Programme to throw a party when it cannot even organise its own programme properly.

  • 5
    3

    Yaha Palanaya has no control at all, only pretending to control.

    If all the crooks of MR palanaya have been re-employed in YP policy making and implementation, how could we expect a change. It is just a change of bullocks but the bullock cart and the load are the same as before, as well as the mind set of the dead weight-freeloaders that is driving the bullocks. No bollocks for a change of direction!

  • 8
    1

    When a new team of senior Managers are brought into turn around an ailing company, the first thing they do is to cut down all extra expenditure where a direct cost / benefit advantage can be gauged. In big business, Corporate events & hospitality for VIPs at social / sporting events are common & are budgeted accordingly in line with the marketing strategy & foretasted turnover. However, Corporate hospitality is a long term strategy where benefits are not directly translated into a higher turnover in the short term. Therefore, a prudent cash strapped company is unlikely to engage in such activity in the short term.

    A few years ago, at the height of the banking crisis, the CEOs of the biggest car companies in USA were summoned to Washington by the Congress to discuss a possible bailout by the US Govt. & they were rapped on the knuckles for jetting in to the hearing in their corporate jets. They were told to cut all their extra expenditure & the senior Executives even had to take salary cut & forego their perks before the Govt. agreed to bail them out. Six years later, these companies are no longer in the red & back in profits. Maybe the senior Management at Sri Lankan Airlines should do a case study of this and on people like Carlos Goesn (CEO of Renault / Nissan) who turned round ailing giants like Nissan & state funded Renault.

  • 4
    6

    Rajeeva,haven’t you heard of corporate sponsorship and thats what Srilankan airlines did

    Please note that Flysmiles program is managed quite well and as a Classic member I can vouch for that

  • 4
    3

    This is just peanuts , Compared to what took place with the last king of Sri Lankans era.

  • 5
    3

    Agree with everything the writer says. Air Lanka and SL airlines were all subject to mass scale abuse throughout. The airline is not in this this because of MR. He took mismanagement and corruption to an all new altitude where no other advanced commercial airline in the world can reach. Having said that the airline is crippled because of “perpetual” abuse through time. No pun intended.

    I am told that you too were part of the airline management at one time that accounted for losses.

  • 3
    1

    Flysmiles managed “so well” …do compare it to other regional airlines loyalty programs success ( SQ,TG,Cathay etc) before hitting the keyboard and this for an airline thats been tax payer funded since 1978.

  • 6
    7

    This is petty nit picking. Yes, the airline is in financial crisis, but do you want them to close shop and eat thosai and wadai until they have sufficient money to eat better food?
    A Lord’s test match is a special occasion and an ideal platform to showcase your product and build relationships. Taking a photograph with past sri lankan national cricketing greats is a great idea and an advertisement for the ‘ailing’ national airline. We do need such promotional ideas and do not want to just lay down and die.
    Just let the Sri Lankan management handle it to the best of their intentions and not try and bring out petty points to show your malice, Mr Jayaweera.

  • 2
    2

    Fish rots from the head.When the head rots everything follows.

  • 6
    5

    This is very interesting indeed. I think the point the writer is trying to make is the fact that there are serious questions that need to be asked with regard to running this organization. Are checks and balances in place, are people in leading positions held accountable, is there a clear understanding of the current financial situation and what forms of actions are in place to mitigate wastage. Is there a properly sanctioned marketing plan and does said promotional activity fall within it. Also its worrying to find that there was no proper representation during the promotional period which shows a lack of involvement by those that are supposed to be present at such functions. All valid points Mr. Jayaweera and I thank you for raising this concern. Immaterial of your elegance to which ever political party (which honestly is no ones business), I feel you are justified in raising this concern because it gives those who are responsible for the proper running of our National Airline a reason to actually open the hood so to speak and to see whats going on inside.

  • 8
    1

    Compared to other commonwealth countries Sri lankan Cricketers have always lived the high life even before test status.- ask ranjith fernando.
    Just after o’levels whether they passed or not they got executive/director appointments in some of the shipping lines, commercial companies etc. while indians were struggling as clerks in banks government departments etc until the IPL changed all that.
    This is the only ass licking game sri lankans/indians/pakistanis/bengalis have unlike other commonwealth nations or the rest of the world.
    you are clueless about europe its culture except your sinhala refugees at germany, italy who have no access to the fineness of society.

  • 2
    1

    This airline is bleeding this blessed country. The airline is nothing but a glorified highly visible pick pocket and have so far taken over LKR 23000 from each pocket of each citizen on Sri Lanka. And they continue to dip into our pockets more and more.

    We Sri Lankans can’t manage an airline as all involved from top to bottom are either corrupt or inept. Shut it down or privatise and stop picking our pockets.

    • 2
      1

      Whoever comes It’s the image of the new ruling class and won’t go away.
      It’s the same with the post of president.
      citizens have no control over socialism which thrives on other peoples funds.

  • 0
    0

    “These are not signs of a sinking airline struggling to survive bankruptcy. These are signs of merry making at the top while the plane is heading south, in an uncontrolled tail spin.”

    Rajeeva Jayaweera;thank you for highlighting what happened in London under the sponsorship of “SriLankan Airlines” . This is tip of the iceberg. Some readers have justified and approved the actions of Srilankan Airlines, forgetting that Srilankan is owned and operated by the Sri Lankan Government with the tax payers money. If it is a private corporation, I too will approve the expenditure and I may complain it is not lavish enough according to the western standards.
    The irony is, it is a bankrupt state institution. Those who justified the expenses and the participant of this TAMASHA are the byproduct of corruption in Sri Lanka. They are gradually being desensitized by the corrupt education, administrative and social values introduced by the politicians and their operatives. Over the years the Sri Lankans and their children have been brainwashed either by design or by economic oppression and inequalities.
    The certain segment of the Sri Lankan society today thinks it is OK to steal from others and state, it is OK to rape children and women, it is OK to use dangerous drugs and drug peddling, it is OK to kill dear ones (including parents and siblings), it is OK to engage in prostitution, it is ok to get into debt, it is ok get intoxicated leaving family hungry, it is ok to poison what we eat and the list goes on…..Bottom line is; this dangerous segment is represented by the lowest kind of individuals, illiterates, educated ones, professionals and the sophisticated elites of the society. This is highly dangerous phase if not the darkest era of our history. Motherlanka is weeping and questioning what happened to her children, what happened to the noble social values of their forefathers.

  • 0
    0

    In this Internet age, while at present Emirates and Qatar airlines sell economy seats tickets for Colombo from Heathrow at £360 and £345 on their A380 flights, Srilankan airlines sell tickets at £460!
    All these Tamashas won’t get any sales in such a competitive market unless they learn to compete strategically rather than wastefully.

  • 0
    0

    The cheapest I foudn to lanka on the web today is this

    Kuwait Airways
    10:30 LHR 4:05 CMB 13:05 Std. 1 Stopp (KWI)
    5:20 CMB 17:00 LHR 16:10 Std. 1 Stopp (KWI)
    Economy
    Details ausblenden Mit Expedia Hotel hinzufügen
    Guter Service1024 €flugladen.de Guter Service1047 €Seat24 Guter Service1047 €Travelstart 969 €kissandfly.de 1024 €CheapTickets.de

    ———————-

    Where did you get tickets for the or Colombo from Heathrow at £360 and £345 on their A380 flights, Srilankan airlines sell tickets at £460!

    I think our guys dont study it first before being addeed them to the web… why is that .. lanken idiocy ?

    Not just this, but also about that CBG issue.. they just add their thoughts no matter lies or incomplete ones.

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