A ministerial committee chaired by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and an official committee headed by Treasury Secretary R.H.S. Samaratunga have been appointed to look into the restructuring of SriLankan airlines, a government source said.
He said the two committees have also been tasked with the selection of a suitable strategic partner and investor to operate the national carrier.
They are expected to submit their reports with recommendations before the end of the year.
The ministerial committee will mainly focus on policy issues and a new management structure to be introduced with the restructuring of SriLankan on the basis of a Public Private Partnership (PPP).
"The main task of the official committee will be to see how to offset the national carrier's debt of US$702 million as no investor wants to partner with it with this liability. We are trying our best to find a way to settle this with local and foreign financial institutions and select the best investors among eight global and regional airlines that have shown interests for such a business model," the source said.
He said SriLankan airlines would not be sold outright to any one and the official committee would consider all options and decide how to revive the airlines and at least turn it into a no profit, no loss venture without being a liability to the Treasury.
“A big question mark hangs over the deals negotiated to purchase six new Airbuses, as the price quoted was much higher than the prevailing market price," the source said.
The original blueprint drawn during the Rajapaksa administration was to purchase 13 aircraft. A 320, A 330 and A 340 air buses were to be delivered by the Air Bus Industries at a list price of US$1.5 billion by 2020 on a staggered basis.
Sri Lanka expects to host 2.5 million tourists by 2020 and the target would not be met if the fleet of aircraft remained obsolete and ground handling inefficient. Therefore, in addition to purchasing new aircraft, the Civil Aviation Ministry has already taken steps to build another terminal adjoining the existing one at the Bandaranaike International Airport. (Sandun A. Jayasekera)