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SriLankan Airlines sends 900 employees on “No pay” Leave

Chairman of SriLankan Airlines – Ashok Pathirage said, they have taken certain measures in terms of reducing staff temporarily, but have sent some of them on no pay. He further said they have altogether reduced 900 people out of which 407 have been sent on no pay.

He said, ground handling at the airport are all SriLankan Airlines staff including the pilots, which adds to excess staff who are mostly permanent employees. He said they have not sent any permanent employees home although they will have to undergo the payment reduction program introduced by them. He added, they reduced 500 employees who were hired through an outsource company.

Looking back, it can be observed that the national carrier could have saved billions, through proper management and ethical practices.

The Rs. 290 Billion SriLankan-Air Bus deal and it’s cancellation which cost the country $26 Million and further $115 Million, the leasing of long haul flights, the report by the Auditor-General as well as the Weliamuna report, all point towards rampant corruption at SriLankan Airlines.

No salary cuts for SriLankan Airlines' staff - Aviation Voice
Chairman of SriLankan Airlines – Ashok Pathirage

The Then CEO, Suren Ratwatte, while drawing an exorbitant salary plus benefits, brought down a flight simulator and introduced a new flight route to Melbourne where his house was located.

Next was the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) appointed by Fmr. President Maithripala Sirisena to investigate into the malpractices of SriLankan Airlines, SriLankan Catering and Mihin Lanka during the period from January 1, 2006, to January 31, 2018, headed by a retired Supreme Court judge and four others.

The PCoI deliberated for nearly one and a half years and submitted a 1,800-page report with a 900-page annexure.

The CID recorded statements from over 550 people and almost 150 others testified before the PCoI.

Nevertheless, not a single Director, including Director/CEO Kapila Chandrasena testified nor were they cross-examined. They only provided affidavits.

The PCoI report, prepared at an unspecified cost but bound to run into many millions of rupees, was handed over to President Sirisena on July 3, 2019.

The latest scam was the payment of commission for the Airbus deal, where Airbus had allegedly hired the wife of a SriLankan Airlines executive as its intermediary while paying $2 Million to her company.

These are but a few instances, where not only the reputation of SriLankan Airlines have been affected but millions, if not billions of public funds have been wasted.

While there have been officials at SriLankan who were esteemed professionals, a majority have not been so.

If prudent action was taken from the inception, and if steps were taken to save the money instead of wasting it, as per the whims and fancies of the political authority as well the officials, maybe those who had to be sent on “No-pay” as a result COVID-19 would still have their jobs.

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