Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s media unit accused the Yahapalanaya leaders of wanting to enjoy themselves the luxury VIP kit that Rajapaksa was to receive as “a complimentary gift” from Airbus Industries, and hence were coming up with all sorts of lies such as they cannot reverse the order made for the VIP kit.
SriLankan Airlines under the Rajapaksas placed orders for 12 air craft with Airbus Industrie consisting of six A 330 and six A 350 in a major re fleeting exercise, one of which was to be fitted in a tailor made fashion for former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s use. The A330 was to be fitted like the Air Force 1 used by the President of USA costing millions of dollars. The fitting necessitates gear to be fitted permanently to the front end of the aircraft which would add at least one tonne in weight even when other interior fittings are taken off when in use for commercial transport. The added weight would inflate the cost per flown mile in addition to lesser yields for the troubled airline.
In a statement issued by Rajapaksa’s media unit in response to Parliamentarian Ranjan Ramanayake’s statement where he claimed that the former president had ordered a luxury cubicle worth four million US Dollars to be fixed onto aircraft used by Rajapaksa, and because of the agreement that has been signed, President Sirisena was unable to reverse the order.
“During the last presidential election campaign, President Rajapaksa was falsely accused of having ordered a private plane for himself. Now they say fairly truthfully, that this was only a kit to convert a part of an ordinary airliner into a luxury cubicle. These are VIP conversion kits which can be installed after removing several seats in commercial airliners and are supplied free as a complimentary accessory when new commercial passenger planes are ordered. Airbus Industries mentions a value for this conversion kit only to give the customer an idea of the value of the complimentary kit. The customer can’t ask for the money instead of the complimentary accessory,” the statement said.
The statement also said that it was not correct to say that the government cannot reverse the order for this VIP kit. “Any customer can turn down the offer of a complimentary accessory if he does not need it. It seems to be that the present leaders now wish to avail themselves of the comfort of this VIP kit for their foreign travels and are trying to make excuses for accepting it by saying that the agreement prevented them from turning it down,” the statement added.