Pilots press case for ditching SriLankan chairman

ECONOMYNEXT – Pilots of the national carrier have accused its chairman Ajith Dias of undermining the credibility of Sri Lankan among loyal passengers, suppliers and creditors by saying that the airline faced imminent closure.

The Airline Pilots’ Guild of Sri Lanka said Dias through his recent communications with the 7,000-string staff and released the media had damaged the reputation of the carrier.

The Guild, along with all other trade unions of Sri Lankan airlines demanded two weeks ago the sacking of the entire board ahead of possible restructuring the salve the hugely debt-laden company.

"Our stance of no confidence in your Board is also further substantiated by the significant defamation and commercial damages caused to our airline because of your statements.

"You have not only given notice to the employees of a closure, but also notice to our loyal passengers that Sri Lankan may no longer exist after March," the Guild said in a terse letter to Dias.

The letter which was also copied to President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the statements made by Dias and his press releases had dented public confidence in the carrier and could be repaired only by his resignation.

President Sirisena had warned he would sack the board in June, but Prime Minister Wickremesinghe intervened at the time promising to reconstitute a board that could work with State Enterprise Development Minister Kabir Hashim.

The minister warned earlier this year that he would clean up the carrier, but has failed to take any action against Dias and his board which is known to ignore him although the airline is listed as a subject under his ministry.

Last week, Dias defended his action in refusing to divulge the perquisites enjoyed by him and fellow board members as well as top management of the national airline.

There had been allegations that although the board members are not officially paid a salary, they enjoy free business class tickets, access to business lounges at foreign airports and also have been using subsidised tickets.





"Information requested by one of the Unions under the RTI Act cannot be disclosed due to its personal nature and as stipulated so in the Right to Information Act," Dias said in a statement last week.

However, he said the total remuneration of the senior management team amounted to less than one percent of the total wage cost of the company. He did not give the wage bill of the 7,000-srong workforce.

There are allegations that board members were drawing allowances from Sri Lankan subsidiaries such as Sri Lankan Catering and also entertaining at the airline’s Colombo restaurant at heavily subsidised rates. (COLOMBO, December 21, 2017)

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