MP Ranawaka on airline debt: flying too high

6 February 2020 12:01 am - 1     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}



The MP in his statement is attempting to quantify the net loss, through the state-owned airlines, which then translates into additional national debt.

FactCheck evaluated the MP’s claim using data on losses from the Annual Report 2018/19 published by SriLankan Airlines (SLA) and population data published by the Department of Census and Statistics (DCS). Specific Mihin Lanka related data was not available as that entity was liquidated in 2016.  We added to our calculations accumulated losses of LKR 17.27 billion, for Mihin Lanka, as reported in the media at that time.

The ownership of SriLankan Airlines is mostly with the government (99.11%). The EPF has (0.36%). The MP’s stated number can be approximated from using the population census numbers from 2012 (20.36 million) and total liabilities of SriLankan Airlines (LKR 250,359 million) in 2019. But that method and the resulting number are both significantly off the mark.

The net loss is not the same as the total liabilities. It is increased by the capital invested and offset by the value of the assets (See Exhibit 1). The population estimates for 2019 by the DCS is 21.8 million. Putting these together, the calculation results in a per capita loss of LKR 10,871, instead of the 12,500 stated by the MP.

There is indeed a large net loss, most of which translates to an increased per capita debt. But in making that point, the number stated by the MP is at least 15% higher than what can be reasonably ascertained from the data.

Therefore, we classify his statement as FALSE. 

*FactCheck’s verdict is based on the most recent information that is publicly accessible. As with every fact check, if new information becomes available, FactCheck will revisit the assessment.


Exhibit 1: Counting losses from SriLankan Airlines and Mihin Lanka

FactCheck is a platform run by Verité Research. 
For comments, suggestions and feedback, please visit   

  Comments - 1

  • Anura Nanayakkara Thursday, 13 February 2020 08:43 AM

    You check all these things now and talk big to get political advantage!! Where were you when you were in Yahapalanaya cabinet as a minister?

Add comment

Comments will be edited (grammar, spelling and slang) and authorized at the discretion of Daily Mirror online. The website also has the right not to publish selected comments.

Reply To:

Name - Reply Comment

Kenneth De Zilwa to head Central Bank’s FSSCC

Senior economist Dr. Kenneth De Zilwa has been invited to take over the Chair

New Parliament must comply with COVID-19 guidelines: Dr. Jasinghe

Parliament heads and Director General of Health Services Dr. Anil Jasinghe ye

Group of SJB members will join UNP after polls: Akila

A group of Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) candidates will join the UNP after th

PC polls before end of this year: GL

The Provincial Council (PC) Elections which has been delayed for several year