Sri Lankan to ditch CEO Ratwatte, professionals join board
ECONOMYNEXT – The controversial chief executive of Sri Lankan airlines is tipped to be removed as the government reconstitutes the board of directors by adding two more top professionals.
Suren Ratwatte’s ouster had been demanded by several former directors, but he stayed on despite the ouster of the entire board following the mini reshuffle of the cabinet of ministers in February.
Pilots of Sri Lankan had protested when Ratwatte attempted to renew his licence and sought to be a literally flying CEO. His pay and other benefits were also the subject of a probe by cabinet ministers last year.
Authoritative sources said Ratwatte was likely to be eased out and a search for a replacement was underway. There was no immediate comment from the airline.
After the Ajith Dias-led board failed to turn around the loss-making national carrier, President Maithripala Sirisena took the initiative to play a greater role in restructuring the company, official sources said.
SriLankan reported an operating loss of 7,489 million rupees in the year ending March 31, 2017, up from a loss of 4,029 million rupees in the previous year.
The accumulated losses of the national carrier were 163.62 billion rupees (about $1.1 billion) by March 31, 2017, up from 135 billion rupees in the previous year.
The government recently appointed a five-member board headed by former banker and senior administrator Ranjith Fernando to revive the cash haemorrhaging carrier.
The authorities added two more members to the board this week — Johann Wijesinghe, a former Sri Lankan airline employee, and Prof. Arjuna de Silva, the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Anti-Doping Agency.
Wijesinghe, 55, is currently the managing director of Alufab, a company in the Hayleys group. He is also a director of 17 companies. He worked at Sri Lankan airlines for 19 years before leaving in 2008.
He quit the national carrier with the exit of Emirates, which had successfully managed Sri Lankan, and joined the Hayleys group. He has acquired expertise in freight forwarding and airline operations.
His new colleague, Oxford-educated Arjuna de Silva, 52, is a former chairman of George Steuart Finance. He is a physician by profession and is also a university lecturer. He has been a physician at the London Olympics and several other international sporting events.
Other members of the board are: Mano Tittawella, Susantha Katugampala, Roshan Perera and Kapila Jayampathi, the current air force chief. (COLOMBO, May 19, 2018)