7 February, 2023


SriLankan CEO Spews F-Word, Vilifies Colombo Telegraph And Admits He Is Incompetent

Using the word ‘fuck’ several times SriLankan Airlines CEO Capt. Suren Ratwatte went on to admit “I am not a numbers man nor do I have a financial background or business acumen’ when confronted by several pilots at a meeting held in Colombo yesterday.

Suren Ratwatte

Suren Ratwatte

The loose tongue wagging CEO Ratwatte, who frequently uses the word ‘fuck’ at meetings went on to say “I am here to make big decisions and ride my bicycle on my off days.”

Captain Ratwatte went on to brief the pilots that the flight sectors operated by SriLankan Airlines to Male and Chennai were super profit making sectors and also a couple of Middle Eastern destinations.

However he went on to complain that all European bound flights were not making profits due to the under cutting of ticket prices by Middle Eastern carriers.

“When he was asked why was SriLankan Airlines scheduling the country’s low cost carrier to operate these same profitable sectors as mentioned by him since they sell tickets at a cheaper price? he went on to give some irrelevant answers. This is absurd as with Mihin Lanka operating these sectors it is our sister airline that has become our biggest competitor on these routes. Further the surplus of passengers over booked on Mihin Lanka spill over to SriLankan Airlines and when we are full we end up giving Mihin Lanka passengers free tickets for being off loaded. The CEO also said that all staff rebated tickets will be slapped with a US$ 70 service charge. Earlier it was a fuel surcharge that was included in the staff tickets and now since global oil prices have dropped it is termed as a service charge. This is the only revenue generation plan I guess our airline has come up with in the last six months. No wonder the CEO’s probation has been extended. It was a waste of time listening to his poppycock. It is us pilots who always have to bear the brunt of a pay cut like we have done in the past. Now again the CEO wants us to give up our annual increments. They mismanage the airline despite being paid hefty sums of money and when they under deliver, we have to pay the price in spite of us doing our jobs right. Sadly in the last six months we have not seen him contributing in any way. Is this the calibre available today to resurrect our struggling national carrier? “asked a member of the Airline Pilots Guild of Sri Lanka, who attended the meeting. Staff are not permitted to speak openly to the media and do so on condition of anonymity.

When the pilots had questioned CEO Ratwatte about his salary he went on to say ” Even Colombo Telegraph had gone on to state that my salary is Rs 4.5 million. They get these figures all wrong and its best we ignore these websites. My salary in actuality is lower than some of the senior captains in the airline”.

However there is no transparency and it is yet to be established as to who pays the Chairman, the CEO and the Board of Directors of the airline their salaries and how much they really earn and what their total package constitutes. It has always been a closely guarded secret.

Colombo Telegraph merely reported the fact that he was appointed to the role of CEO SriLankan Airlines under the headline “SriLankan Airlines: Charitha Ratwatte’s Brother Appointed As New CEO” but never published his salary details or perks.

After that story was published many people had asked him if the story was factual. It was then that he was reported to have told people that Colombo Telegraph is a “non entity”.

Colombo Telegraph can confirm that nowhere did it mention the CEO’s salary to be Rs 4.5 million in any of its publications.

However what Colombo Telegraph can establish is that the CEO Capt. Ratwatte did once write to the Editor on the 18th of February 2015 and requested an article that he had written be published to commemorate the 25th death anniversary of the late media personality Richard De Soyza.

In his email to Colombo Telegraph sung in a different tune then, he went to state “I am avid reader of the Colombo telegraph and really appreciate the contribution you have made to the journalistic scene in Sri Lanka”.

As far as Capt. Ratwatte is concerned his appointment as the CEO of SriLankan Airlines with no prior experiences in this this role was purely based on nepotism. This is solely because he is the brother of Charitha Ratwatte, a close friend of Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe.

We publish below the email he sent to the Editor of Colombo Telegraph in full:

———- Forwarded message ———-

From: Suren Ratwatte <suren[ Personal email – Edited out by CT]>
Date: Wed, Feb 18, 2015 at 3:35 PM
Subject: ‘Richard de Zoysa appreciation’
To: “colombotelegraph@gmail.com” <colombotelegraph@gmail.com>

Dear Editor,

Today is the 25th anniversary of the murder of my dear friend Richard de Zoysa. I am attaching a short piece I wrote in his memory, and I hope you will be able to include it in your publication.

I am avid reader of the Colombo telegraph and really appreciate the contribution you have made to the journalistic scene in Sri Lanka.

Best regards,

Suren Ratwatte

Dubai, UAE.

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Latest comments

  • 3

    Well said YakkallaSimon! SriLankan is lucky to have him as CEO?

  • 9

    I felt that I must make a final comment on this, I honestly think that the reason for this article was that the CEO would have have told th pilots that the good times have come to an end and buck for reality. I doubt the big three airlines in th Mid East allow this kind of mockery and our UL guys who go ther fly like mice without being cardboard Sandors! I say well done CEO more power to you, hope you use better (wink) words to explain the situation and the pigheaded attitude of this lot.

  • 4

    Making much out of nothing about the use of the “F” word. Reality is the airline losing money.
    .1. Vanity routes that need to end.

    .2.Cabin crew members who have no clue what in flight service or customer service means.

    .3. Too many political appointees including Hambantota gamaraakas and gamey Lathas

    4. Corruption, corruption, corruption.

    Give this chap at least an year before you start bringing out the social media lynch mobs. Any who’s brought in has to learn the intricate culture of a giant third world corporate entity first. You don’t come in and slash and burn. I’m confident he’ll do well without political interference. It takes a team to do what he wants to do and he will do his best. Don’t know why you buggers all think you’re experts. Are you all A380 pilots and pilot trainers? Please give him time.

  • 3

    The following article appeared in the Sunday Island edition of 27 September 2015. Questions raised are gradually becoming reality.


    SriLankan Airlines appointment of new CEO
    September 26, 2015, 7:35 pm

    SriLankan Airlines has announced the appointment of a pilot Captain Suren Ratwatte to the post of CEO. According to the release, Ratwatte’s experience spans over 30 years as a pilot with Air Lanka and Emirates, over 18,000 flying hours in different aircraft, holds Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, is the author of several published works, has been a senior instructor and most recently, the Human Factors Manager of Emirates Airlines.

    The advertisement published by SriLankan Airlines on 13 May 2015 stated ‘the ideal candidate should possess’ ;

    * A Bachelor’s degree and a Masters/MBA from a recognized university of an equivalent professional qualification

    * A minimum of 10-15 years’ experience in a business leadership role in the international aviation sector

    * Extensive experience with a recognized international Airline with in-depth knowledge of Commercial, Flight Operations, Engineering and Maintenance

    Holding Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the prestigious ERAU in Florida, USA, Captain Ratwatte does possess the first prerequisite. On the second prerequisite, Ratwatte was one of the lead pilots during the role out of Airbus A380 aircraft into the Emirates fleet which indicates he was a line pilot till very recently.

    Then arises the question as to the manner in which a pilot requiring to maintain his pilot’s license by flying a minimum number of hours obtained 10 years’ experience in a business leadership role unless it was a part time business leadership role if such positions does exist. Further, the Human Factors Manager position at Emirates is a junior management position in the Emirates management structure. Its Department Heads hold the designation of Snr. Vice President and Divisional Heads the designation of Snr. Executive Vice President. Could the Board clarify if a junior Manager of Emirates with 18,000 flying hours experience is suitable enough for appointment as CEO?

    On the third prerequisite, Ratwatte does not seem to possess in-depth knowledge in Commercial, Flight Operations, Engineering and Maintenance but only in the field of Human Resources which is not a core discipline relevant to an airline CEO. Could the Board clarify the number of years of experience Ratwatte possess in Human Resources area on full or part time basis and if at junior, middle or senior management level?

    It would be interesting to establish the number of applicants who responded to the advertisement, number shortlisted to be interviewed, number of final contenders and their qualifications and experience. If the selection criteria was merit based, it would be correct to assume that other candidates possessed lesser qualifications and experience than the successful candidate.

    When President JR Jayewardene requested Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew for the release of Captain Rakitha Wikramanayake from Singapore Airlines to head Air Lanka, LKY was candid and stated ‘pilots do not make good CEOs’. JRJ persisted, Capt. Wikramanayake was released and it all culminated in the Presidential Commission investigating Air Lanka in 1986.

    A full cycle has passed and the airline has once again appointed a pilot as CEO in 2015. When comparing the prerequisites in the advertisement with the successful candidate’s experience, a substantial mismatch can be observed giving grounds to assume that selection was based not on merit but on some other criteria.

    It would be pertinent to question if Ratwatte has hung up his flying jacket or has he been permitted to retain his pilot’s license in which case he will have to spend a certain number of days each month operating flights making him a part time CEO. One time Chairman/MD Capt. Wikramanayake under cross examination by the Commissioners stated he did not have the time to read all documents received in his secretariat. The Commissioners were not surprised, considering the number of days Captain Wikramanayake had spent in the cockpit each month, to keep his pilot’s license current.

    The current Board assumed office sometime in January 2015. They could not get rid of former CEO till March 9 when he resigned upon the submission of the interim report by the commission appointed to investigate the affairs of SriLankan Airlines. The present Chairman maintained the former CEO had an ironclad contract valid for five years without a termination clause issued by the previous Board. Since Ratwatte is presumably giving up his lucrative employment with Emirates and his career as a pilot, would the Board provide a clarification on the duration of Ratwatte’s employment contract and termination clause?

    The present Board of Directors have attributed all past mistakes to the previous Board of Directors. Ratwatte’s appointment could be deemed as their first major board decision. It is incumbent on the Board of Directors to clarify these issues in the name of transparency, especially as Ratwatte is the sibling of a senior official in the 2001-2004 UNP government. Susil Perera Unquote

  • 3

    Perhaps no one else to touch the toxic UL environment with a barge pole? This chap took a pay cut and sacrificed his extensive perks and luxury apartment in Dubai. Give him a break men as we say in Colombo. He will take tough decisions to stop the wasteful flights to Rome, Frankfurt etc. Even the London flight to CMB which is always full of returning expats(in particular Tamils from Canada and England) is losing money despite current operations running at a profit. In fact by the way the joke was that the London Colombo and Zurich Colombo flights will be the safest and Tamil Tigers will not bomb those flights because 85% or more of the passengers were Tamils and even some Tiger Tamils!!

    What men? Why didn’t you shout big during the Rajapakse time men? We had ethically challenged tea salesmen who borrowed money from neighbors in the USA dn did not return it, we had ethically challenged men in Aviation, we had Ambassadors, Airline chairmen ALL appointed by the GodKing simply because they were related to the GodKing. What men? Where were all of you back then men? Give this guy a couple of years. Some of these whining pilots want to hold on to their perks and inflated per diems by flying what we called the “Shopping flights” to European destinations with the nice stays in nice 5-Star hotels etc. The short hops to Chennai and Delhi did not offer them overnight stays with shopping allowances. We all know that men. What men? Aiyo men.

  • 1

    Sorry Yakkaka Simon, you got it somewhat mixed up there. The A380’is NOT a challenge to fly as its made so much easier to operate than the first generation A320 which is being flown at mj&ul, along with many other airlines in the world. It can fly much longer than the smaller aircraft (18hrs) and the pilots take turns at the controls during those long flights doing many things other than flying as its on Autopilot mode. Some read, some bring their fancy iPads out and may even be playing games instead of monitoring their machine. Some would attempt to improve their vocabulary (to prevent using the F-word to fill in the gaps in thought). Those whose spines are weaker or have back problems and cannot fly for long are made CEOs of dying airlines. There you got it !

    • 0


      “The A380’is NOT a challenge to fly as its made so much easier to operate “

      You must be speaking from personal experience, then. ? What airline do you fly A380’s for ?

      Do tell..

  • 3

    looks like the UL Pilots are throwing a tantrum at the new of them not getting their new Toys (A320’s). Some one should first flog all the Pilots for their cry baby attitude .. after incurring a 120 billion ++ loss over the last few years “Fu**”s is too good of a word to be used on these guys. !!

    High time that all at UL realises that the entire country is sick an tiered the drain it has on our economy, the lousy service and the corruption

  • 0

    Forget the F… word.

    The blasted airline is a dead albatross hanging on all Sri Lankans. Any other commercial venture running at a massive loss for decades would have filed for bankruptcy a long time ago.

    Shut down this conceited gravy train of the inept, the corrupt and nepotistic politicians.

  • 3

    Pilots will never become good managers at the highest levels. Majority of them are basic GCE qualified people. Some of them may have become good flyers but not knowledgeable enough of pulling an ailing airline out of its grave. He is not supported by highly qualified team of senior managers either.they are attending to the daily routine work only. Get down few foreign expats who had salvaged such organizations with proven background . At least after paying the debts the government should be able to run the airline in a profitable manner. If not what we all can say is RANILTA BAA

  • 1

    “My salary in actuality is lower than some of the senior captains in the airline”, said CEO Ratwatte after admitting he was incompetent. Then, any salary is too much. He was appointed because he was a relative and the rapidness with which he had run SriLankan airlines to destruction, he appears practically useless. The Emirates management must have had relatives too but none of them were given jobs when they ran SriLankan airlines, but people employed on merit. This is why they made profits year after year which these idiots could only dream of. I can understand why Ranil Wickremasinghe is quick to forgive the massive debt SriLankan airlines had amassed. I did not know that CEO Ratwatte is his brother-in-Law. I wrongly assumed nepotism went away with the Rajapakses.

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