The sad and shocking state of the country’s national carrier, SriLankan airlines was revealed recently by Deputy Minister Eran Wickramaratne, who disclosed that the airline which recorded a profit of Rs. 4.4 billion in 2008, took an appalling nosedive having recorded a whopping loss amounting to Rs. 107 billion, since then.
Wickramaratne, the Deputy Minister of Public Enterprise Development speaking in parliament underscored that the decision by the former administration led by Mahinda Rajapaksa to cancel the deal with Emirates, just because they refused to permit a large entourage of Rajapaksa onboard was a ‘huge mistake.’
He further noted that the cancelling of the deal with Emirates has led to the current shocking financial situation the carrier is embroiled in.
He also praised former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga’s administration for deciding to partner SriLankan with Emirates, which led to the carrier being converted from a loss making institution to a profit making one in 1998.
However, after the Government of Sri Lanka, under Rajapaksa cancelled Emirates CEO Peter Hill’s visa in 2007, Emirates pulled out of Sri Lanka in 2008, after selling their 40 percent shares to the Sri Lankan government.
“From them on, it begun to plummet, recording huge losses,” Wickramaratne said.
The deputy minister also revealed that under the chairmanship of Rajapaksa’s brother in law, Nishantha Wickremasinghe, the staff was increased by 30 percent, which contributed further to the losses.
“In 2008, the staff stood at 5113, but by 2015, this was increased to 6987,” he said. Wickramaratne also cited political appointments as one reason for this increase.
According to the deputy minister in some instances due to the over staffing, a 140 seat aircraft was handled by 300 workers.
He also added that the government’s decision to purchase A330 and A350 airbuses in an irresponsible manner, led to the further suffering of the airline.