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Monday April 15th, 2024

SriLankan Airlines ready to recruit foreign pilots if need arises – CEO

ECONOMYNEXT – State-owned, loss-making SriLankan Airlines will recruit foreign pilots if the need arises, its Chief Executive Officer said, as the national carrier has suffered an exodus of pilots last year following an unprecedented economic crisis.

The COVID-19 pandemic, followed by an economic crisis, hit the airline hard as it was deprived of the usual near full capacity flights amid a sharp fall in tourist arrivals to the island nation.

Nearly 60 pilots have left SriLankan Airlines in the last 12 months and the national carrier has recruited a number of new cadet pilots to face the shortage, SriLankan officials said.

Richard Nuttall, SriLankan’s CEO said the airline has already got approval from the government to recruit foreign pilots, if required, to face the shortage.

“It’s approved, and the package is the same as local pilots except for an international standard housing,” he told EconomyNext on the sidelines of a media workshop on airlines.

“For us, we need 30 pilots this year, and maybe 50 pilots middle of next year…. There are plenty of pilots in Southeast Asia and Northern Europe. You get paid as much with us as you will working for an LCC carrier.”

Many pilots left SriLankan after the country declared a sovereign debt default last year, while some others left following the government’s decision to impose higher taxes across the board.

Industry experts say most of the pilots who resigned joined Gulf airlines, including Qatar and Emirates Airlines, which offer higher compensation.

“If you are a Gulf carrier, you need 500 or 1,000 pilots. You have to pay a lot of money for them. You can’t get away with it because you are subsidised and your average size of carrying is 400 passengers,” Nuttall said.

He said the pilot cost will not be affected by the number of passengers a flight carries though SriLankan pilots are “not paid badly”.

“Our pilots don’t get paid badly. They don’t get paid as much as they get in the Gulf. But if you get a salary here and if you live in Sri Lanka, you can live better in Sri Lanka than somewhere else, Nuttall said.

“It’s tight. It’s a concern and there maybe a time when we are really tight, maybe we will have to cancel one or two flights. But I think we will get there.”

President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government has listed SriLankan Airlines to be privatised after continued losses since 2009.

It was managed by Emirates on a 10-year contract until 2007 before then-president Mahinda Rajapaksa stopped extending the deal after his entourage to London was not given seats in the aircraft on a London flight. (Colombo/September 13/2023)

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  1. Bravo says:

    I would be more interested to hear what Nuttall has to say.

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  1. Bravo says:

    I would be more interested to hear what Nuttall has to say.

Sri Lanka to discuss two contentious points with bondholders: report

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka and sovereign bondholders are to discuss two matters in the near future which the two sides failed to reach agreement at March talks in London, a media report quoting a top aide to President Wickremesinghe as saying.

Sri Lanka and bondholders had discussed four matters on restructuring international sovereign bonds in late March and agreement had been reached on two, President’s Chief of Staff Sagala Ratnayake was quoted as saying on state-run ITN television.

A restructuring proposal by bondholders was not in line with IMF requirements, and Sri Lanka had sent a counter proposal, he said.

The matters will be discussed at round of talks in the near future.

Sri Lanka was optimistic of reaching an agreement with the bondholders before June, officials have said.

According to matters already in the public domain, sovereign bond holders are keen to get a bond tied to dollar gross domestic product, as they feel IMF growth projections are too low.

In past re-structuring so-called value recovery instruments, a type of warrant, gave their owners extra payments if a country did better than expected and were tied to items like oil prices.

Bondholders had initially proposed bond which would have a lower hair cut initially, and it will have additional hair cuts if growth is low (about 3.1 percent) as projected in an IMF debt sustainability analysis. (Colombo/Apr15/2024)

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BIMSTEC Secretary General visits Sri Lanka, discusses regional cooperation

ECONOMYNEXT – The Secretary General of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), discussed measures to enhance regional cooperation, during his visit to the island last week.

Ambassador Indra Mani Pandey, Secretary General of BIMSTEC visited Sri Lanka from 07 – 12 April 2024, following his assumption of office as Secretary General of BIMSTEC in January this year.

The Secretary General “met with senior officials of relevant Ministries/Agencies to discuss measures to enhance regional cooperation under various BIMSTEC initiatives,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Several BIMSTEC countries have bilateral trade agreements, such as Sri Lanka and India, Thailand and Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand, but no collective regional agreement to enable intra-regional leverage.

During the visit, Secretary General Pandey held discussions with Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials and paid courtesy calls on the President and the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Secretary General Pandey participated at an event on “Regional Cooperation through BIMSTEC” organized by the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute (LKI) on 9 April. (Colombo/April15/2024)

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Sri Lanka rupee closes weaker at 299.00/10 to the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed at 299.00/10 to the US dollar in the spot forex market on Monday, from 298.50/55 on Wednesday, dealers said, while bond yields were broadly steady.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2026 closed stable at 11.30/35 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 closed stable at 11.90/12.00 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2028 closed at 12.10/20 percent up from 12.10/15 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2029 closed stable at 12.20/40 percent. (Colombo/Apr15/2024)

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