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President orders renegotiation of talks with prospective int'l airlines

26 October 2017 09:49 pm - 14     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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President Maithripala Sirisena has instructed the apex economic management body, the National Economic Commission (NEC) to renegotiate a dialogue with two international airlines in a bid to resuscitate the national carrier Sri Lankan Airlines (SLA) including the old partner Emirates and the latest rounds of talks have been satisfactory, a reliable senior government source said.

‘The issue of the future of the national carrier SLA was taken up by President Sirisena at the last NEC meeting held before his official visit to Qatar. It was pointed out by Public Enterprise Development Minister Kabir Hashim, who is also a member of the NEC that negotiations would begin very soon to set up a joint venture or outright sale of the SLA which has an outstanding debt of US4 600 million (more than Rs. 90 billion),” the source said on condition of anonymity. This large debt portfolio is holding back investors who are unwilling to partner with the SLA but reluctant to take up the liability,” he added.

Earlier, the cabinet appointed negotiating committee comprising Special Assignments Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama, Minister Hashim and Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama had a several rounds of detailed discussions with Emirates. The airline has raised its disappointment on the unilateral abrogation of the management agreement agreement with the SLA by the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime without considering the impact on Sri Lanka’s economy, tourism and the fate of the SLA. The sudden and imprudent decision had been taken reportedly on the instructions of UPFA national list MP and former President Rajapaksa’s right hand man and consultant Sajin Vaas Gunawardana, he noted

“A large question mark is hanging over the deals negotiated to purchase 6 brand new Airbuses as the price quoted has been much higher than the prevailing market price and the FCID is investigating the deal right now, he said.

“Tim Clark, the CEO of Emirates has stated during the first round of negotiations that the Emirates was willing to be partnered with the SLA once again but not ready for an equity partnership. However, the current negotiating team of the government is confident that further discussion would be continued until an agreement in a win-win situation is reached to both, he added.

Meanwhile, a Japanese airline has also expressed interests for a partnership agreement sponsored by a leading Sri Lankan businessman with interests in tourism, banking, insurance and milk products, he said.

The dispute arose when the Emirates refused to bump 35 passengers from a full London-Colombo flight to make way for former President Rajapaksa and his entourage in December 2007. (Sandun A Jayasekera)

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  Comments - 14

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  • Sincere Thursday, 26 October 2017 10:49 PM

    When it was Air Lanka, it was a leading a highly reputed and a profitable air line in the South East Asia. When it was that then, why not today? No one looked for prospective buyers for the airline then!

    Hadam Friday, 27 October 2017 01:52 PM

    Then there wasn't so called BUDGET AIRLINES like Air Asia. Times are different now, we have to be up to date with competition.

    concern Friday, 27 October 2017 04:10 AM

    Who would be interested with such a big debt and a loss.

    concern Friday, 27 October 2017 04:10 AM

    Who would be interested with such a big debt and a loss.

    bala Friday, 27 October 2017 05:30 AM

    The biggest problem is when the President orders to do something.There is no respect to other party. A public official should give advice and the EMC recognises the value and act upon it. Otherwise provide publicly for not doing so. That is true democracy.

    Ama Friday, 27 October 2017 08:48 AM

    Thank You, President for your initiative; though it is too late.

    Ama Friday, 27 October 2017 08:52 AM

    outright sale is preferable because to AVOID government interference and mismanagement in the Airline.

    Ama Friday, 27 October 2017 08:52 AM

    outright sale is preferable because to AVOID government interference and mismanagement in the Airline.

    BuffaloaCitizen Friday, 27 October 2017 09:08 AM

    Close the bloody airline, enough is enough of public money has been damaged, if this money was available we could have built 10 parallel Galle Roads, High Level Roads, Kandy Road to ease the daily muddle in traffic. Stop this nonsense and get rid of this white elephant.

    A Karunaratne Friday, 27 October 2017 09:09 AM

    at turbulent times like this, the first step would be for the top executives to take a 50% pay cut for one year until the airline reaches some sort of economic sustainability, Singapore airlines is a good example who asked their pilots to take a pay cut to save the airline and their jobs.

    Mohan Friday, 27 October 2017 09:20 AM

    The pricing of SriLankan tickets are too high and hence not competitive.A low number of customers leads to loss.

    Lankan Friday, 27 October 2017 09:21 AM

    Mahinda Rajapaksa ruined Sri Lankan Airlines for his ego problems. It's our money, not his personal one

    Hadam Friday, 27 October 2017 01:54 PM

    Correct. it was in good hands of Emirates.

    ANTON Saturday, 28 October 2017 01:37 AM

    MR AND FAMILY DESTROYED OUR BELOVED NATIONAL CARRIER!


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