The board of directors at loss-making SriLankan Airlines has been told to ‘perform or quit’ if the airline doesn’t return to profitability soon, local media reported, quoting Public Enterprises Development Deputy Minister Eran Wickramaratne who warned last week that the national carrier should get its act together and stop the losses within two years and then show a growth path.
“I will not accept a budget which shows five years of continuous losses. Those who are managing the company and who are on the boards of the company need to take responsibility (or leave),”
Wickramaratne reportedly told a pre-budget panel discussion organised by the Sunday Times Business Club (STBC). The airline comes under the authority of Wickramaratne’s ministry.
“Someone (from the airline) asked me which aircraft should be purchased and which routes should be stopped. I told him that this is his decision, not mine and if you are unable to do, then get some who can,” he said, adding that for too long politicians have been interfering in commercial decisions.
A swamp of corruption
The minister's ultimatum comes just seven months after SriLankan Airlines Chairman Ajith Dias, who took over the debt-ridden airline from former chairman, Nishantha Wickramasinghe in February this year, publicly stated that "a new business model" for the airline would turn around the carrier and SriLankan Airlines would start earning profits from the 2017/18 financial year.
Following elections in Sri Lanka earlier this year and a subsequent change in government, an official inquiry found details of corruption under the previous chairmanship of Wickramasinghe and ex-SriLankan CEO, Kapila Chandrasena, which ran into billions of dollars, manipulations of service contracting, recruitment of unqualified staff and major security breaches at the airline.
Nol van Fenema