SriLankan Airlines Chairman Ashok Pathirage, CEO Vipula Gunatilleke, Head of Flight Operations Pravin Wettimuny and over 40 Pilots are now strong candidates to contract the Covid-19 virus, after a pilot who had come in close contact with all of them at a meeting held on the 18th of January 2021 had already been tested and found to be positive, even before the meeting had begun.
This entire fiasco commenced when a Captain (name withheld to maintain his privacy) arrived from Melbourne on the 18th January 2021 and was unaware that he had tested positive for the Covid-19 virus.
Prior to departure to Melbourne on the 16th January 2021, the said Captain had completed the standard RT Antigen Test in Colombo and was found to be negative.
However according to Australian regulations the Captain had to undergo a PCR Test upon arrival into Melbourne.
At the time of departing Melbourne on the 17th January 2021, the Captain had not yet received his PCR test results as his layover in Melbourne was less than 48 hours.
The Captain then arrived in Colombo on the morning of 18th January 2021 and was dropped off at his residence after his duty ended.
A few hours later he attended a meeting that Chairman Ashok Pathiage, CEO Vipula Gunatilleke and Head of Flight Operations Pravin Wettimuny had arranged to speak to over 40 pilots of the airline.
The meeting ended and all those who attended either dispersed back to their offices or returned to their respective homes.
However shortly thereafter the Australian authorities informed SriLankan Airlines and it soon became public knowledge that the said Captain’s conducted PCR Test results on the 16th of January 2021 in Melbourne had been positive.
However even on the 19th of January 2021, business continued as usual especially for those that attended the meeting.
Meanwhile allegations have now been levelled at Chairman Ashok Pathirage, CEO Vpula Gunatilleke and Head of Flight Operations Pravin Wettimuny for playing down this incident and for not reporting this serious matter immediately to the Health Authorities, as it is their said duty.
Instead the Head of Flight Operations Wettimuny had taken a decision to have only those pilots who travelled with Covid-19 positive Captain in the staff vehicle isolated.
As per the Ministry of Health guidelines, anyone who comes in contact with a Covid-19 patient should be quarantined.
If the Ministry of Health guidelines was to be respected and followed then a colossal number of pilots, its Chairman, CEO, Head of Flight Operations, their respective families, their office staff and anyone who came in contact with them all have to be immediately isolated.
But in a land like no other where one law does not govern everyone anymore, the new Covid-19 ‘Pilot Cluster is now possibly destined to take-off and infect thousands of innocent people, due the sheer negligence of SriLankan Airline’s Senior Management. (By Janaka Ranaweera)