A fresh controversy has arisen over the Right to Information appeal filed by the Pilots Guild before the Right to Information Commission due to SriLankan Airlines suddenly arguing that it is not subjected to the RTI Act at all.
Reliable sources at the Guild informed Colombo Telegraph that SriLankan Airlines had retained lawyers who had appeared before the Commission to say that it is not a company incorporated under the 2007 Companies Act but a company which had been incorporated earlier under old company laws and only ‘re-registered’ under the 2007 Act. As such, it had said that it is not covered by the RTI Act which only applies to companies incorporated under the 2007 Companies Act.
The Guild has strongly objected to that argument. It is reported that the RTI Commission too had been taken aback when this point had been raised with the Commission observing that it was concerning for SriLankan Airlines to take up this position after complying with the Act and appointing an Information Officer and a Designated Officer. According to information received by Colombo Telegraph, the Commission had indicated that it was not prepared to accept this argument and reserved Order to be delivered later this month.
The Pilots Guild had filed an appeal at the Commission after their RTI request had been rejected by SriLankan Airlines. Chairman of Sri Lankan, Ajith Dias went public saying that he will not give the information requested. The RTI request related to the below;
1. Salaries and other allowances and/or benefits of: a. The CEO of Sri Lankan Airlines Limited b. Head of Human Resources (HHR) of Sri Lankan Airlines Limited c. Chief Commercial Officer of SriLankan Airlines Limited
2. All information related and/or connected to Pakistan International Airlines’ (PIA) correspondence with SriLankan Airlines Limited
3. All information related and/or connected to PIA initial entry into an agreement with Sri Lankan Airlines Limited and all information relating to the Agreement with SriLankan Airlines Limited including the said agreement
4. All financial information (including but not limited to profits and/or losses and damages) connected to the Agreement and/or arrangement between PIA and SriLankan Airlines Limited
5. All information related to and/or connected to the termination of the Agreement and/or arrangement between PIA and SriLankan Airlines Limited 6. All information related to and/or connected to the cancellation of the order of Airbus A350 Aircraft (including but not limited to all Agreements and/or correspondence related to ordering of Airbus A350 Aircraft and the cancellation thereof) 7. All information related to and/or connected to the cost of personal flying training for the A320 jet conversion borne by SriLankan Airlines Limited and/or any party for the CEO Mr. Suren Ratwatte.
The Guild resorted to the RTI Act in the background of major public controversy over huge payments and a variety of perks being awarded to top management of SriLankan despite running the airlines to the ground in the past three years. This was a continuation of the same wasteful practices under the Rajapaksa Government.
President Maithripla Sirisena has now appointed a Commission of Inquiry headed by retired Supreme Court judge Anil Gunaratne to inquire into malpractices at both SriLankan and the now non-existent MhinAir.