ECONOMYNEXT – A bidder for Sri Lanka’s loss-making national airline on Thursday promised to appease Lord Murugan and conduct daily rituals if they are given a controlling stake in the airline and the Mattala airport.
A company called Peace Air (Private) Limited said they were bidding for both SriLankan Airlines as well as the international airport at Mattala, close to the sacred city of Kataragama, the home of Lord Murugan.
The company, in a dossier given to reporters in Colombo, said Mattala was doomed from the beginning as two peacocks, known as the vehicle of Lord Murugan, were "run over" by a SriLankan Airlines flight on opening day.
"Disaster after disaster struck the airport," the report said. "Day one at the foundation stone placing by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who came by helicopter, his back-up helicopter with the bodyguards crashed."
The Peace Air offer says they will respect the nearby sacred city and request civil aviation authorities to declare a no-fly zone over places of worship.
"We will follow all rituals and traditions that come down from centuries ago before we begin our oeprations," according to the report. "In all humility and humbleness, we will get back the divine grace that this airport lost."
However, as company executives spoke at a press conference unveiling their proposal at a hotel in Colombo, the "Peace Air" banner peeled off the wall. It is not clear if the company took it as a good sign or a bad omen, but expressed confidence they will clinch the deal despite their fears that some bureaucrats may be trying to "hide" (sabotage) their offer.
Despite what may seem to foreign investment bankers as mumbo jumbo, the company is offering serious money for taking over both the airline and the airport, which are currently huge white elephants the government is trying to shed.
The company claims it will bring in $8.8 billion to take over the airline, along with its catering, the now grounded Mihin and the Mattala airport.
They showed a letter from German carrier Lufthansa’s consulting arm saying they have offered to conduct a due diligence of SriLankan and Mihin subject to a "contractual agreement being signed to that effect".
"A framework agreement covering the cooperation of Peace Air Pvt Ltd and Lufthansa Consulting GmbH shall be executed before the commencement of the project."
The Sri Lankan government is yet to begin the process of allowing prospective bidders to carry out any due diligence of the airline.
Peace Air Pvt Ltd is headed by Gamini Wethasinghe says he is grateful to President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe for "creating this peaceful environment to live in and do business".
He said he is in talks with Malaysia Airlines to buy six A380 double decker aircraft to run Peace Air parallel to SriLankan. However, Peace Air does not posses a licence to operate air services, but Wethasinghe said it would be a formality before he got it. (COLOMBO, January 19, 2017)