Embattled SriLankan gets new CFO credited with reviving Angola’s carrier

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has appointed Vipula Gunatilleka Group Chief Operating and Finance Officer of SriLankan Airlines as a Presidential Commission of Inquiry investigates irregularities at the national carrier.

"The leadership provided by Vipula in restructuring the national carrier of Angola resulted in the airline achieving break even status and a strong cash flow position in a short period of time," SriLankan Airlines said in a statement Monday. 

He was the CFO at SriLankan Airlines when the airline was managed by Emirates. The ariline has made losses since Emirates exited.

SriLankan Airlines reported an accumilated loss of 170 billion rupees at end March 2018, and a negative book value of 115.8 billion rupees.

The appointment is effective from 1 August.

"Gunatilleka in his capacity as the GCO & FO will report to the Chairman and the Board of Directors and will be responsible for the overall management of the airline," a statement from the airline said.





Gunatilleka had been a board member and CFO of TAAG Angola Airlines, nominated to that position by Emirates Airline which took over management of TAAG. He was reappointed to the board by the Government of Angola when the partnership with Emirates ended in July 2017.

Gunatilleka is past Chairman of the CIMA Sri Lanka regional board and was on the board of the Sri Lanka Auditing and Accounting Standards Monitoring Board.

Loss-making SriLankan Airlines had got letters of comfort from the Treasury to allow it to borrow an additional 50 million US dollars from state banks, a finance ministry report has shown.

Up to 2016 SriLankan and Mihin Air had been given Treasury guarantees of 160 million US dollars to cover borrowings from state-run Bank of Ceylon and People’s Bank. In 2017 additional letters of comfort has been given to cover 25 million dollars of loans each from Bank of Ceylon and People’s Bank, taking the total up to 210 million US dollars.

It is not clear whether the funds were repaid.

An ongoing Presidential Commission of Inquiry has uncovered several irregularities at the airline.

The airline had given advertising deals of over 415 million rupees to firms controlled by one family, where former Chief Executive Kapila Chandrasena had at times ordered payments without formal contracts.

SriLankan Airlines current Chief Executive Suren Ratwatte was appointed to his post without a board decision, a witness told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry.

Two explosives detectors operating at the cargo arm of SriLankan Airlines since 2016 are found to be low-cost machines with expired certification and field tests failures. (COLOMBO 30 July 2018)

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