2 December, 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

  • 16

    CEO Capt. Suren Ratwatte

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

    Than you man, for admitting you are incompetent.

    1. “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.”

    You should have said that you are as competent as Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brother in law Wicckamasinghe, but the difference is that you are honest and admit that you are Incompetent to run an Airline, business wise.

    2. “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.”

    At leaset are not riding Air Hostesses on you “off” days, a good thing.

    Hey, CEO Capt. Suren Ratwatte do you want to go to business school?

    • 31

      How come in our fair land, governments believe that a pilot can run an airline? Will they appoint a bus driver to run the CTB? Doesn’t the same rule apply?

      This joker was appointed because he is the brother of Charitha Ratwatte. This extended Ratwatte clan, including Chandrika, is continuing to live as parasites of the poor people of Sri Lanka.

      Don’t these people have any shame?

      • 5

        Lol!! Well said. Lets get the telcom linesman to be the chairman of SLT as well!

        • 4

          In all fairness “linesman” will do better job than most of the nepotistic rat bags that been appointed to the job by last & this regime.

    • 10

      Look there is very little that can be done by Suren or any other CEO.

      The govt has to take a policy decision to find a JV partner who can operate the airline. It is unlikely that anyone would invest in equity but an operating arrangement is a must. We cannot turn it around even if fuel is free!!! Imagine running losses when fuel is at USD 30 per barrel.

      Further you need a competent board that can make decisions. Yes men and buddies should not have any place.

      The only good thing is the board is not taking any fees but are entitled to 2-3 sets of free air tickets. For instance even the board members in SL representing Cathay are entitled to free air tickets which is an industry norm. Even some off line carriers such as KLM used to give free tickets to board members in Sri Lanka.

      Suren is earning less than some senior pilots who are earning close to Rs 3 m per month. Senior stewards and stewardesses earn in excess of Rs 500,000 per month with allowances.

      • 1

        We have been here b4, haven’t we Jagath.

        Knowing our past experiences with a Managing Carrier, the incoming setup will demand their pound of flesh for managing our affairs.

        Then as customary, we will toss the lot out when the situation becomes too much for our lot.

        I am confident the folks at UL can/will do a super job, if they are unleashed from their political masters.

        May not be he correct example, Ethiopian Airlines is case to go to. |
        No matter what the calamity the Nation goes through, the Airline shines, managing with what’s in front of them.

        Best wishes to my former employer UL.

        Truly, The Best is Ahead of you.

      • 1

        Why are we in a mad rush to find a foreign partner for SriLankan Airlines when the most obvious solution, staring in our face, would be to depoliticize it as an important first step?

        The highly-regarded Ethiopian Airlines, while government owned, ensures that no political lackeys find their way into the airline’s management team. That is one important factor that has been attributed to its success.

      • 2

        Jagath – I totally agree with you that Suren Ratwatte or any other
        CEO cannot run the airline and show profits unless the Govt.enters
        into a joint venture with another experienced airline with finan-
        cial backing. What is strongly suggested is to have a govt. to
        Govt. serious talks with Dubai govt. on an urgent basis and get Emirates to run our airline again as they know the insight of Sri Lankan airlines. If an apology is required for breaking the con-
        tract abruptly by the previous Govt.,give it like what PM Ranil
        did in China recently and hang the pride.
        The funniest and most annoying thing is that the govt. continues to run this dollar guzzling airline as if the aircraft they have,
        have no breaks to stop them taking off to various destinations,
        incurring heavy losses in foreign currency. The pride of the Govt.
        to be blamed for the heavy losses and not CEO Suren Ratwatte,
        who were not given funds and foreign expertise to run the airline

      • 5

        Srilankan is lucky to have an honest guy as the CEO.

    • 0

      if you are incompetent, you don’t fit the job. Minimum req should be at least an MBA. Who interviewed him for the position?

      • 4

        The CEO has an MBA, from Emery; the Uni that specializes in aviation.

  • 14

    Easy, Easy now.

    No need to get huffed over the liberal use of the ‘F’ word.
    Look at it this way, if not for the actions in the ‘F’ word, will we be around ? Just saying.

    Too bad, the CEO has no business acumen, not a numbers guy and no financial acumen. So, how does one make big decisions, through a coin toss ? Sometimes it is the only option, the coin toss that is.The CEO has his go to people in the management who will give him the options. He has the cool job of making the decisions. Shah!

    Remember Lee Kuan Yew on Airlanka and Rakitha Wickremanayake ? Same, same here.

    A persons salary is private information between the employer and employee. Nobody should demand to know, how much someone else is getting paid. If the people need to know, then the state can enact legislation that will show and tell every Govt Service Employees salary over a fixed amount. Some countries have it.

    Most carriers, now have low cost airlines on the side to target the ultra-price conscious consumer. True there is cannibalism of services somewhat from the larger carrier. Yet, they co-exist well.

    It appears the meeting between the Pilots and the CEO has been a hostile one.

    Everybody at UL, go back to work. Much needs to be done.

    • 3

      Dear AN

      After seeing so many irrelevant, partisan and self serving comments from fellow ex UL colleagues, your comments are very much a breath of fresh air. Fair, objective and independent, very much like the man we knew as A colleague.
      You are right, there is no necessity to get all heated up about the F word. Those who remember our ex Chairman Mr HJ will know the power of even stronger words

      Same goes for individual salaries, this can easily be questioned in the parliament thru your MP if it is a matter of importance, if not it ought to remain personal, after all it is not Capt Suren’s fault that he is paid x amount

      You as an airline person know that full service and low cost carriers of the same owner exist alongside, time pilots of our former company wake up to this global fact. Of course Capt Suren did a piss poor job of explaining that, you AN should have been there !

      Thank you for the sensible comment, this is the true spirit of this forum

      • 0

        Many Thanks for your kind comments Roshan.

        Gosh! HJ,his default position of the other was that the other was a ‘Thief’. Once you pass this muster, you were left alone.
        During a visit to the City of Lights, he gifted me a 1976 Port. I still have it, I haven’t had the heart to drink it. I must be a bloody fool.

        In full disclosure, HJ gifted me 02 bottles, the other I passed on to Pierre who was with me when we dropped in to say Hello to HJ.
        Pierre, without batting an eyelid asked, ‘ow are you Mssr ‘arry, is the ‘otel ok, did you sleep well, is the water warm enough for you, do you want me to speak to the ‘otel Manager etc..I was shocked, seeing HJ trying to figure out how to answer Pierre’s genuine asks. After this I signaled to our colleague in LON to ask HJ about the Hotel, Water, Sleep etc. Our colleague thought I was going mad.

        A delight to have worked for UL, wonderful dear colleagues, joyful human experiences, trying times; They were the best of my working carrier.

        Best Wishes Roshan.

  • 11

    The man has no bison he should be sent packing. Leave alone talents he doesn’t even have language skills or respect for the possition he holds. Was dressed like a beggar. “A” grade moron. Must have been brought up on dog food to act in the way he did.

  • 11

    Generally you need skills and abilities to get a decent job, but in Sri Lanka it’s all about “who do you know.” You can get a well paid job in Sri Lanka, if you know people who have power.

  • 12

    There is a reason why he used “F” word frequently. It is used because his brain is empty and he has nothing to contribute.

    Next time he’ll keep saying FFFFFFFFFF! This is what happens when the bus driver of the sky become the CEO of an airline.

  • 18

    “A persons salary is private information between the employer and employee.”

    That may be so if it is a private business, not if public funds are involved.

    • 0

      “A persons salary is private information between the employer and employee.” That may be so if it is a private business, not if public funds are involved.

      Pray, tell me: how much does the CB Governor is getting? Or how much does Junior Sirisena of Telecom fame is getting?

  • 10

    Mr clean, Mr clean’s class mate and his brother will receive a hefty commission when the fraudsters sell the national carrier to a competitor again. He was installed as CEO not to run it but to make sure “they” get the commission when its time to sell the national carrier.

    Uncle destroyed 50% of local enterprises, it seems nephew will destroy the rest.

    • 8

      If the local enterprises were so great in the first place, how come we saw no evidence of that? Tell me one nationalised ‘local enterprise’ among the Big 5 that is not running at a large loss?

      Might blame Mr Clean and Uncle when the Bank of Ceylon comes crashing down with its enormous portfolio of non performing loans as well.

      • 2

        All were profitable before 77. Once our mindset shift towards that Sri Lankan enterprises are inefficient and is a burden they naturally become unprofitable.

        The point is, only way to develop a country is by having it’s own enterprises. Expecting multinationals to use our cheap labor and then somehow increases our per capita is a twisted logic.

    • 0

      What percentage did MARA destroy?

  • 8

    Both Srilankan and Mihinair lose millions daily.
    Yet, they are allowed to buy new aircraft.

    Sri Lanka is the only country where this happens.
    Do we need such “national carriers”?

  • 13

    These buggers use the word fcuk because they dont know how to brush their teeth. The bugger’s bravado is visible in the f word as he is backed by another bugger who wants to use the f word but can’t because he is a chocolate bunny.
    Damn shame ! a damned shame, that shaggers like this are given top jobs just because their qualificaion is who you know and not what you know. In reality sri lanka does not need a national airline, for what ?????????????? so that it can be used utilising tax payers money as a magic carpet for alibaba and the 40 thieves to roam the world on their sexcapades.
    68 yrs after independence if the governments in power could not fly a national airline into profitability what could they have done. ????
    Yes !!!!! they can only fly themselves and cronies into profitability. Explanation not needed.

    Where is sri lanka and sri lankans headed ???????? Only God knows.

    Its best that Suren Ratwatte go and do a stint of management with Air Koryo. Even that airline, although its flying many soviet built aircraft from the 60’s and 70’s, is most probably run with profitability and even though the fleet is pretty old, its well maintained. A aircraft buff’s heaven to see those Tupolevs and Illyushins still flying.

    Sri lanka a lovely island beyond doubt, but with many thick headed bulls in a china shop.

  • 14

    Did he say he is Incompetent, Impotent, or Important. Please clarify.

  • 8

    While not justifying the use of the “F” word by the CEO of Sri Lankan Airlines how could CT cry foul when CT used the “F” in a headline when the President’s son got on stage at the Royal-Thomian presentation.
    People who live in glass houses should not throw stones

  • 3

    If he admits that he is incompetent he can fuck off – three times a day after meals prerebly!

  • 3

    Dear Colin, I don’t intend taking sides on the F word (as whichever side I look from it means the same eh ?) the difference here if I may point out is that one happens to be the CEO of the National airline (God forbid) addressing its Pilots and the other happens to be the media that has exposed such runts in office ! It should bother us all when huge amounts of public funds are utilised to pay these incompetent persons placed in office by the PM no less on this occasion.
    It should also worry us if the Pilots of this airline didn’t have the guts to walk off the meeting when they were inappropriately being addressed. What a silly bunch of sisies. Had it happened at the Port or even the Zoo, the labour unions would’ve walked off.
    This mad Ratwatte has not delivered anything since his arrival 6 months ago and has faired as badly as its board of directors and the coat tailor Chairman. By the way they were the choice of Mr Clean who spoke against nepotism, but that was before elections and should not be applicable anymore, right ?

    • 3

      FRCS qualified, man, FRCS. Former Royal College Students!

  • 3

    “fuck” word was a common word for him even when he was a skinny brat at Royal College. I think that is a fashionable way of indicating they are suddas

  • 3

    Totally Agree Waruna. Who the F is this guy to come and give us thousand talks. This country and PM thinks only his elite,Rathwatte’,Thithawalas’,Bandaranaikes,wickremasinghes’ can turn this country to a heaven.Last 6 months he did not do a ball.Just appointing his cycling friends to top jobs.Anyway when the airline is privatized,The white guys will ask all these hot potatos with salaries paid in millions to just Piss or F off.(forbidden word)

  • 2

    This incompetent Rathwatthe idiot, who has no decent skills re administration of an International Airline should never have been made a chief of flight operations,His vulgar language skills show what a stupid nincompoop this fellow is. This fellow seems to be as bad as randy Wicremasinghe chairman of yore. This bloody Airline should be got rid of and sold to the best bidder that will help us to be an airline that brings income to our treasury rather than a Parasite that caters to the rich poltical mafia that was the hallmark of the filthy MARA regime

  • 5

    “I am not a numbers man nor do I have a financial background or business acumen; I’m just a fucking dickhead”

  • 2

    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”.

    So why did he leave emirates for a lesser salary???emirates pay much more higher than srilankan…did he wake up on the right side of the bed the day he left emirates???

  • 9

    This article is clearly written by one of the pilots of SriLankan present at this meeting with Mr. Ratwatte.

    Here are a few facts i have managed to gather that perhaps all readers would be well advised to consider.

    1. There are a few unions in the airline which represent the separate grouos of staff.
    Pilots guild – represents all the pilots
    Flight attendants union
    Engineers and technitians union
    General staff union – representing all the other areas of the company, However only for staff in grades 1 to 7.

    There is an executives union for grades 8, 8.1 and 9 but this union only functions as a body to meet with management on company related issues initiatives and therefore function more as an team of reps in practical terms.

    2. Employees in the airline range from grade 1 to grade 13 with the latter being cheif officer level. Engineers, technitians and pilots have their own grading system.

    3. The former Chairman and CEO entered into collective bargaining agreements with
    A. Flight attendants
    B. Pilots
    C. Engineers and Technitians
    D. General grade 1 to grade 7 staff

    As per these agreements, these categories of staff theough their unions have agreed in advance for fixed increases in their salaries year on year.

    Regardless of performance, based on grade a fixed value was awarded by former leadership.

    3. These particular unions with CBA agreements collectively account for approximately 6200 out of the reported 7000 staff in the airline.

    4. With the exceptiin of political appointees and relations of big wigs. It is common knowledge that Grade 8.1 and above recruitment was carried out targetting university graduates and holders of various other qualifications.

    5. With the unions having fixed annual salary increases for lower level staff presumably with little to no qualifications, there is a gap in the employee treatment.

    6. Generally the staff neglected in or receiving minimal salary changes (as low as 2000 rupees annual increase which is below growth in cost of living) would be these qualified individuals.

    7. If this airline is to survive and recover, public opinion is that qualified professionals need to be retained and given responsibility to perform as well as freedom to make much needed changes.

    8. Over the past years, the company has looked to manage its staff cost by minimal or no salary increases to executive and managerial staff. These staff represent arnd 10% of the entire workforce.
    How bleak does the airline future look if these talented future management choose to leave in a tine of much needed energetic performance.

    9. My sources has provided information that due to these agreements, grade 6 and grade 7 staff are now earning salaries much higher than staff in 8.1, 8.2 (executive) and even grade 9.

    10. These CBAs are clearly a massive burden on the company when its investment in retaining staff should perhaps be elsewhere.

    11. The pilots guild has been known to strongly oppose hiring of cadet pilots and or train younger new pilots, this is mainly due to the strength the senior pilots have and the threat of younger pilots reducing their bargaining power to draw larger salaries and have higher increments.

    12. Even same situation exists with engineers and flight crew. The salaries of seniors being in the lakhs and sometimes above industry standard.

    13. Clearly UL should invest in younger pilots, engineers and cabin crew. Reduce the benefits and perks on offer. If staff threaten to leave, there is young blood to remain and carry things forward.

    14. Bonding of critical staff is used to be in place but not so common now. Perhaps this is the need of the hour.

    15. A new batch of management trainees is currently being short listed for recruitment. However the candidates selection already seems to be marred with influence by a director of HR.

    16. The HHR was pivotal in staff union negotiations however he does not seems to have a plan or policy in place to retain core employees needed for the future of the airline.

    17. There have been 2 previous management trainee batches over the last decade, these candidates many of whom supposedly hold multiple qualifications and are performers appear to have been made stagnant. These homegrown individuals would perhaps need to be in line for management level work? And or in succession plan for same? The selection of some of these candidates too appear to be not ideal. The airline has invested in these staff, this would be an opportune time to put them into the machine of management. Surely half a decade or so of experience is sufficient for a capable candidate to replace less performing managers.

    18. The airline has a large number of 50+ year old staff with 20+ years of work experience. Sadly the majority of these are known to be free riders who enjoy thumping salaries. The runour is these staff have been identified to be reallocated or removed. Perhaps younger workforce can replace same at a lesser cost and produce better results.

    19. The pilots and flight attendants appear to be in uproar at the prospect of no increments, and some commentors above have gone so far as to imply they shouldnt have to suffer for the company not maki g money. And question why pilots should take a pay cut or forego any salry increase. Perhaps the fact that they have already enjoyed much more than their deu in terms of payment.

    20. It is common knowledge that past chairman gave the pilots and cabin crew whatever they wanted by way of throwing his weight on negotiation decisions. He received several services from crew and pilots too must have supported the use of cabin crew as a bargaining tool. The fact that a small airline such as SriLankan has below average pay for its most educated staff category and well above average payments to the sky drivers and air waiters is much alarming.

    21. While pilots are skilled and are critical to the airline just as engineers and technitians. How justifiable is it to pay an only o level/ a level completed individual ( cabin crew) salary and allowances in total over 3 or 4 lakhs a month. Whereas some graduate executives earn maybe 15% of same ?

    Points to consider. Please feel free to comment as i too would like to dig further as to what is going on in this airline.

    • 2

      Well put together but I think a lot of this is highly inaccurate.
      The flight crew at UL are paid a salary far below industry norms. I simple Google search on UL flight crew salaries and any other middle eastern airline salaries will tell you that. You claim to have all this information from sources but you sound like a disgruntled paper pusher.
      Why do Sri Lankans flock to the middle eastern carriers if they have it so good here?

      • 4

        Hi Thilak,

        I think your comparison is a little off. You see the middle eastern carriers like Emirates, Qatar and Etihad operate in networks with close to or above 100+ destinations, in addition to many more code share destinations.

        In absolute terms UL cabin crew basic salary is less than these middle eastern carriers, the issue is UL has only 29 destinations and a handful of code share options. in the scale of the airline and its revenue generating base is it not understandable that cabin crew of UL would earn less? Now keeping that as a base we find they crew has negotiated incentives perks and allowances which rival or surpass that of middle eastern carriers. That itself is an anomaly.

        If you can justify the basis of above, by all means you must most certainly be right as it appears you are not on the same page as me on this.

        Further, let me ease your curiosity as I am quite happy with my job and in all my contributions to this forum I have tried my level best to provide more information and insight as I have several colleagues in the airline.

        I do however welcome you to dispute any of the points I listed above, at the same time you are most welcome to contact the HR division of SriLankan and find for yourself if the details on the CBAs, unions and staffing data are inaccurate and or biased.

        If so, by all means please contribute !!

    • 2

      Above comment well explain the current situation. I wish someone who is responsible will read this and take something to mind. Someone who has a good education background needed for this airline. This is an airline which cabin crew is pained around 3 lacks and a graduate an exercutive paied 60thousand average. Which young talent need to be use. And it’s not all about the experience matters. Staff need to think out of the box, need to look for current trends which 80% of staff are who have worked 20+ years belive in experince and traditional methods only.
      Also need to identify where are the areas which needed more staff and where excess of staff. While we call airline has excess of staff, operational areas runs with minimum and lack of staff. Everyday they compel to continue the staff, giving OT and additional transport.
      I would suggest please go through these cabin crew paying ploicy which can’t understand for what they being payed the productive payments for.
      Please go through the agreements with ECD. while airline talks about loss, agreements signed with higher ECD even the amount which payed 2015. So if these agreemets revise we should have save huge amount of money rather than talking about small pay cuts.

  • 0

    So Gamini, how has your beloved UNP dealt with MR’s nepotism and corruption in well over a 100 days?

  • 2

    Frequent use of Anglo-Saxon lingua exotica like fcuk and cnut betray a serious deficiency in the vocabulary of the user. With Rat Watte, this is coupled with a dire need to impress and keep detractors at bay. He is the proverbial square peg in a shit hole. But this is Sri Lanka, and there is fcuk-all we can do about it. As long as he has a godfather in power, he cares a fcuk about what any cnut thinks, or says.

    To be truly Sri Lankan, try the hooth and pako. Will some linguistic honcho please advise whether hooth and pako trumps fcuk and cnut.

  • 7

    Dear Saman,
    Bravo ! Your article is a gem.
    It carried more internal information than what I’ve seen for a long time.
    I wonder if HHR Kakulawela or that ‘F-ing’ CEO is aware of those statistics.
    You may be from HR dept, so be it and more strength to you to expose more.

    Disagreeing with you would be difficult.
    I’m an employee who had put in almost two decades of service in the sky as a ‘sky-driver’ as you put it. Whether we like it or not, piloting is a skill acquired with over many years of training. It pays well, almost all over the world and it should. Many lives depend on two skilled people and their machines. I needn’t go into aviation related accidents and incidents to elaborate on that here. While a qualified surgeon can have one patient on the operating table, a pilot would have over 200 at times and sometimes many times over. Split seconds matter at times but you may not be aware of it. and I wouldn’t blame you. High salaries are the norm to prevent a further drain of trained and experienced pilots. Removing the more experienced is certainly not the solution here as youngsters need to acquire the skills and the maturity required to be a commander. Though many are experienced enough to be Captains they have not have the required maturity to handle other related areas. Being in charge of a vast number of lives all alone in the air may sound simple for some, but not when things go wrong and one needs to be able to handle the aircraft and its passengers alike to stay alive.
    But I would agree that over the years our peers (perhaps even now) feared losing the grip on the market and actively discouraged taking in more youngsters to fill the cadre. Many hundreds of local pilots were made to flip burgers in the USA as the management was hell bent on creating a pilot shortage at Sri Lankan. They then manipulated the situation thus created and demanded even higher salaries. I would also readily agree that our salaries and that of our cabin crew are higher than found in the region and needs to be pruned. It should start from the top with the chairman, directors, ceo and the rest should take the first cut of 20% at least (perks & salary) the rest could take 10% but keeping the minor staff out of it. The present topic of airline losses are not due to high salaries but due to political interference, aircraft diversions to pick friends and politicians, accepting commissions for purchasing the wrong aircraft etc. The list is very long ! So placing the entire fault on high salaries alone is incorrect.
    Several trainee pilots selected by our sister airline MIHIN Lanka were recently ‘dropped’ after yet another quick check on them. The were to pay Rs 8.5m per person for the training and had signed a contract with that airline. They had completed 9 months of ground classes when the new UL management headed by a ‘F-Ing’ ceo decided to drop them. Both airlines still boast of having 30% expatriate captains nearly 70 yrs after commencing commercial aviation in this country. Certain managers and quite a few others were getting commissions from these expats so the desire to hold on to them was greater.
    I was surprised to note that you had never mentioned those crucial revenue losing and corrupt areas in your long and otherwise excellent report. I’m sure you hadn’t delved into it yet but I’m sure you will dig out real gems in those dirty pits.

    • 8

      Dear Waruna,

      Hats off to you for acknowledging that pilots and cabin crew are perhaps being paid over and above their due with regard to the region of operation.

      Unfortunately, I am not a member of the HR department. Although i do admit majority of my sources are indeed from said department of the airline.

      I most certainly agree with you that proper training is essential and experience is gold, however my reference was in regard to a comment above stating why should pilots take a pay cut. This was simply background as to how pilots have become the largest component in the airline payroll and the extent of which has widened due to force exerted on ensuring new pilot receuitments were avoided and thus raising bargaining power.

      Agreed salaries are a small cog in the cost wheel of the airline, however my research has brought to light several anomalies in the various pay scales.

      If we are to identofy more significant cost items, we need look no further than the signed agreements for delivery of the A350s, surely an airline which operates its longest sector at a duration of approximately 11 hours has no justifiable use for aircraft capable of managing 15 hour travel on average. What is more alarming would be several sources in engineering reporting that the negotiated lease rates for these aircraft are almost 30% higher than industry norm.

      I agree with your proposal for salary adjustments. But maybe more focus is needed on removi g unnecessary large allowances provided to staff.

      Cabin crew have allowances which are well above rates even offered by Emirates. The IT division pays each of its staff. Divisions like IT and Finance pay allowances to staff to compensate for qualifications and skills development undertaken however only few engage in studies and programs whereas several other areas encourage staff to invest in self education and development but no considerations made in contributing toeards the expense or allowance to encourage.

      The news on Himin pilots candidates being discontinued is news to me. I shall check on this further.

      However we need not talk further on the sister airline as the very foolish decision of allkwing it to compete with SriLankan on common routes has reduced the route revenue. CEO calling these super profit routes may not be true much longer as MJ is planning to increase frequencies and further utilizing UL connectivity to offer lower prices without need to compete. Several colleagues of mine in travel trade have themselves admitted the drop in prices by Mihin has made competitors reduce further and therefore increasing pressure for UL to reduce fares as well.

      In thw midst of all this public asks for higher revenue.

      MJ is not a present need its launch was a mistake. And this mistake has to be undone sooner rather than later.

  • 0

    Look like we have got a one more yahapalanaya Corrupt appointment, why we need an Air Line , sell it ,

  • 3

    It is very heartening to read the contributions made by Vishvajith, Rohan, Saman, Waruna and the like in regard to this SriLankan Airline and going into internal working and giving much needed food for thought. Thank you for making this forum lively and meaningful.

    Let us forget this “F” word, because it is now in common usage. We hear more than that in Parliament these days. Certainly the present CEO made a terrible mistake in telling that he is not a “number man”. We know he should not be a “number collecting” man like a “Book-Keeper”; yet as a CEO he must know and have a tremendous capacity to “Examine”, “Interpret”; “co-relate” and most importantly to “DEDUCE” the TRUTH from the numbers. When he says I am not a “Man of Numbers”, does he tell the world that he is NOT the man to be CEO? In my opinion, it is yet another DISASTER to leave the fate of this Airline in the hands of a person of that caliber. It looks he has proved his incapacity to handle this onerous function when anyone looks back at what has been happening since his coming into being as CEO.

    Saman: You have given a good insight into what is going on at present. How to overcome this is yet another matter to be discussed. I feel, to begin with this organization must have a “Corporate Plan” that encompasses all major functions, such as Fight Operations, Engineering, Commercial, Fleeting, Procurement, Financial, Human Resources etc. and strictly carve out an organizational structure to fit into it purely on the criteria of making it a commercial venture. That is what this present Management should have done; but completely ignored that requirement and kept on flying on “Auto Pilot Mode”.

    Also, I too do not agree with the remarks you made as regards the Pilots as “sky drivers” and Air Hostesses as “waiters”. They are an INTEGRAL of a successful OPERATION of a “Flight” that can make or break the entire venture. Any airline to be successful has to be very careful and mindful of the selection of personnel to perform these functions as otherwise the whole outfit will collapse. Perhaps you must be very much “frustrated” with the method of selections of personnel and the types of people who have come to fill those positions. Please note it is only my personal hypothesis.

    Anyway, a “Big Thank” you to all who kept this forum lively with relevant remarks, rather than going on personal attacks.

    • 5

      Dear Douglas,

      At the outset let me clarify, I too agree Pilots and Flight crew are pivotal to the operation. My reference to “Sky Drivers & Air waiters” is merely with regard to the individuals of this category who have stooped so low as to maintain their bargaining power by manipulating the hiring process to these cadres and thus ensuring their experience and services are in scarcity. These individuals have in my humble opinion degraded their standing to such which I have referred to as Sky Drivers and Air Waiters.

      That being said, UL does most certainly have stellar pilots and frankly some of the best cabin crew in the world today in terms of courtesy and service. Surely there are bad apples but such is the world we exist in.

      Thank you for discussing some actions that can be taken in the airline as I have repeatedly over the past few articles on this topic asked for public discussion of this. The ever happy to “COMMENT” Mr Rajeewa Jayaweera always is quick to make public comment on what is wrong , what he thinks should have happened and what not. Perhaps he should use his supposed wit to write a clear article recommending steps to counter these issues.

      I did have a chat on these lines just a while ago and was quick to put your question to my source and request a little insight. As fate would have it, appears that as you have suggested, MR Ratwatte and the HHR have indeed begun a process to identify the ideal department wise structure for staff in order to achieve the company goals. However this most certainly means the removal of excess staff, which appears nobody is willing to do. Therefore talk is abt redistribution of resources in order to fine tune operations.

      My recommendation would be a total evaluation of staff requirement on operational performance, an achievable target oriented approach. Infuse the lowest levels of management with the youth hired over the past few years after a careful identification and selection process.

      Identify aged staff near to retirement and make arrangements to discontinue service through acceptable measures. The high cost for their job functions is surely not warranted.

      Reconsider whether staff on contractual services agreements are required and terminate if not.

      It appears the annual review of employee performance is underway, utilize this to identify underperformers, and determine a method to address the issue of their performance. Ideally these staff need to be let go, as they are a hindrance to the progress of the airline.

      My sources have indicated Management is actively trying to renegotiate the lease agreements which are a massive burden.

      A clear decision needs to be taken on MJ, in plain terms we simply do not need it. There was talk of budget and legacy carriers operating together in the world. This is most certainly true, and viable when the two networks complement each other.
      In the case of Emirates and Fly Dubai, the CMBDXB sector is approximately 4 hours flying and yes based on this time duration is seems practical that one can segregate the market into passenger who want to fly budget and those who will pay for a service and fly in higher level on a legacy carrier.
      However compare CMB to madras or Male, the flight is approximately 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. The general public of this country spend more times daily on the road in traffic. anyone with common sense will know that on such a short route more people will opt to choose the lowest price option. This is what is happening, MJ is taking larger numbers which is growing. The competition is following the trend due to passenger movement and lowering fares. What then will UL do to maintain its carriage and make money, it too has to drop fares. Mind due before MJ being in the scene, UL would carry majority share of the market at higher fares.

      Is it not right to say then that MJ is reducing the revenue SriLankan can make?
      Happy to discuss. Please carry on the debate

  • 3

    Interesting read, i see this as (1) pilots are not happy that there pilot turned CEO is not on their camp like previous chairmen, hence they are taking things out of context and attacking him, typical JFKesque phenomena (2)lot of people who are commenting are, I assume, staff or ex staff, and I want to where these guys where when the previous management who ordered aircraft costing millions like someone ordering a take out meal? isn’t the current management stuck between a rock and a hard place with the money wasted buying aircraft, building airports, hiring staff, not only the airline event the government is trapped in debt due to trigger happy previous govt, albeit is it pointless harping on that front (3) if Sri Lanka to have media freedom i think CT should also get the view of UL and or the CEO, that way the readers can get a better picture of what really happened and (4) i think CT and the pilots are taking a farcical high moral ground about the “F” bomb, come on people that word has become part of every day adjective.


  • 1

    I don’t agree with the current CEO’s approach but he is not the main problem but the state that appointed him and Rajapaksa’s pig-head.

    “Emirates Airline will not be renewing a 10-year contract to operate Sri Lankan Airlines when it expires on March 31.

    From April 1, Sri Lankan Airlines will be managed by the Sri Lanka government, but Emirates will retain its 43.6% equity in the company for the time being, according to an Emirates statement.

    It will also continue to have a board presence.

    The Sri Lankan government holds 51.05% of the airline and employees have a 5.32% stake.

    Reports in Asia suggest that the Sri Lankan government wants a bigger role in managing the carrier and that it had complained the existing contract was “heavily tilted” in favour of Emirates financially.

    Emirates president Tim Clark and government authorities in Colombo held talks over the weekend following the decision by Sri Lanka to cancel the work permit of the Emirates-appointed chief executive of Sri Lankan Airlines, Peter Hill.

    Sri Lanka cancelled Hill’s work permit after the national carrier refused seats to president Mahinda Rajapaksa and his entourage.

    Rajapaksa went on a private visit to the UK in December to watch his son’s graduation from a naval college but couldn’t get a place on the flight home because of heavy holiday traffic.

    The Sri Lankan government says the airline “misled” it and had promised seats to Rajapaksa and his 35-member entourage – which airline sources deny.

    Hill will continue to run Sri Lankan from Dubai until Emirates’ 10-year management contract with SriLankan runs out.”

    This was Sri Lankan Airlines downfall.

  • 4

    Guys, haven’t you heard of self deprecation? What Mr . Suren Ratwatte was doing was to put the pilots at ease using the sort of language pilots and military folks use all the time.

    You just attack him and get your rocks off in typical mean spirited Sinhala ways.

    You cannot be the FIRST pilot at world famous Emirates Airlines to fly the massive Airbus A380 (none of these ego centric local UL pilots can ) and be a master pilot and train other pilots for an airline that rewards competency without having credentials.

    He was being self deprecating. He’s the only man from a Sri lankan to be honored in the NY Times best seller “Outliers” by world famous author Malcolm Gladwell.

    None of our Sinhalese appuhaaamis, Sirisenas, are so accomplished in their field. He perhaps would be a better COO than CEO but sometimes you need a blunt guy to fix the broken mess. The monetarily unprofitable European routes need to be disposed of soon and find a partner to stop this massive hemorrhaging of public funds.

    No need to sustain bloody vanity flights to Europe . Suren’s there to help drive sense. Everyone knows he took a big pay cut from being a senior respected A380 pilot to help out because he’s connected via his diehard UNP brother. So what?

    Yet, he’s leaps and bounds better than the Olevel failed Rajapakse appointees or Sirisena’s brother or even cousins of Ranil who are ethically challenged, but appointed to boards of Apollo Hospital, made ministers or possibly even been appointed as High Commissioners to UK.
    Give him a break. He went to the top flight school in the world and earned every penny through hard work and not by sleeping with air hostesses like Rajapakse appointees. You all show your envy.

    Now CT attacking him or reporting this is acceptable and ok in the post Rajapakse world. But these absurd comments without ever knowing him are ludicrous.

    Being skilful and self deprecating shows great strength of character.

    We gamaralas are envious types with no credentials; we should stop spewing venom on a man who is far more accomplished than you and I are.

  • 1

    Speak for yourself Yakkala Simon!
    Typical A– Licker. If you are staff your sure to get a promotion.

  • 5

    The problem is there are too many pundits at Sri lankan. The Pilots and the flight stewards should do the job they were hired to do or else they would have been hired as managers or applied to become managers. The flight stewards think they are it and treat the passengers very badly. That is why we travel other airlines now. Let the managers manage now with no interference from the politicians. Give them time.

  • 3

    Just want to shed some light to Saman’s and Waruna’s comments. Like some one mentioned Saman or the person feeding info to him has been in stagnation for many years,thus the reason he is writing frequently about above 50 managers.It’s not that easy especially to be a manager in an Airline dynamic commercial environment without much maturity,experience and exposure. Do you think it’s easy to make decisions on price increases or a deduction, on a route without experience ? Or to deal with GSAs and Agents without hurting and losing revenue? Or to stand up and give a off the cuff meaningful speech to a 250 ordinance..It takes years of experience to deal with your top passengers,and that’s where Sri Lankan has flouted moastly.Most of the top First class and Business class passengers now opt for other airlines.
    Also on staff Remuneration, its just 13-14% of the cost component off the total..the heaviest hits are on fuel,aircraft leases,transport and many others.CEO should have first addressed,the commercial,ancillary issues and revenue streams.That’s the most mismanaged,disgruntled area in the company.Also the area most political interference and influence is taking place.Company in the hands of a investor would first look at these areas as priority.Look at over staffing in many areas.In commercial area it’s so evident that wrong people and correct people are placed in wrong places.Using the F word in airline industry is common a scenario. Sometimes more deserving so.Take it on the context and don’t carry it home.

    • 4

      Dear Sumane,

      Your views are most appreciated. In reply to your assumption though, my comments with regard to retirement age is merely from a cost point of view and in consideration of the actuality of majority of the staff performance in this category.
      I haven’t any personal concern with this area and it is an honest comment with the view of increasing efficiency. Almost every individual I have spoken to with regard to the work culture in the airline has always referred to these aged staff who over the years have become complacent and are drawing thumping salaries without any increase in contribution.

      As an observer and a follower of the aviation industry, my view is that the average age of the workforce is very unhealthy and requires action.

      As I have stated above in my comments, lease costs are the biggest area that needs to be addressed, that being said these are contractual with little to no exit windows. Fuel is a global market and the airline cannot look to manage cost on fuel other than improve utilization and efficiency which appears to have been an area of focus in recent past.

      Thus the staff cost which can most certainly be improved upon is one of the MANY steps to be undertaken. Further the basis of this area of discussion was that by addressing the staffing issue and implementing a more efficient structure of staff allocation the airline can improve efficiency and operational performance.

      Some cogs in the wheel do indeed tend to hold the entire movement back and recent discussions suggest the staff issue is one such cog. Restructure in this area will most certainly set the field for better management and implementation of better processes.

      Perhaps you wouldn’t agree. But we are all entitled to our views.

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