Written by Zulfick Farzan
18 Jun, 2018 | 8:36 pm
COLOMBO (News 1st) – The Presidential Commission of Inquiry has instructed the Chairman of SriLankan Airlines to ensure witnesses are not interfered with by any person or authority within the organization as per the provisions of the Witness Protection Act.
Captain Ruwan Vithanage, the President of the Airline Pilots Guild of Sri Lanka testifying before the commission today said revealed of an attempt made in 2013 to lower the cut off mark in recruiting cadets for SriLankan Airlines. He said the cut off mark which was maintained at 70% throughout was to be brought down to 65% in a bid accommodate two cadets who did not meet the qualification.
Queries made the Airline Pilots Guild have exposed contradicting statements from two authorities over this attempt. The then Minister of Civil Aviation Piyankara Jayaratne had written a letter to the Chairman of the Airline noting there is a shortage of 1st Officer Pilots at SriLankan Airlines and the Policy of the Government was to recruit Sri Lankans for the program. Jayaratne had requested that the Cut Off Mark be revised, however, the standards should not be compromised.
Surprisingly the Chairman of the Airline had responded to the Pilots Guild stating the decision to lower the Cut Off Mark was a request made by the Management. Undoubtedly, the individuals who were to be included by revising the cut off mark and the attempt behind this process will be further exposed in the future proceedings of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry.
In addition, Captain Vithanage said the cause for the loss of ETOPS or “Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards” was an inherent defect in the engines. He raised the question, if twin-engine planes are procured they need to have the ETOPS certificate and if there is an issue, why procure those planes at all? He said 05 NEO Planes were procured during the term of Nishantha Wickremesinghe as the Chairman and Kapila Chandrasena as the CEO of the Airlines.
Captain Vithanage also went on to stated Former Chairman Nishantha Wickremesinghe showed a vested interest when the discussion took place over Cabin Crew matters and at times was seen on flights accompanied by certain members of the Cabin Crew.
He also stated that the lease for several planes were 30% to 40% higher than the market price. The Captain noted that the Annual Maintenance Cost for all planes is around 17 Billion Rupees, while the total lease cost is around 22 billion rupees.
Following the losses incurred by SriLankan Airlines, the treasury had infused 14.2 Billion Rupees to SriLankan Airlines in 2012 and 12.86 Billion Rupees and 19.2 Billion Rupees in 2013 and 2014 respectively. Surprisingly, as the infusion also grew, the Board at the national carrier did not take any steps to verify how these losses were made.
The introduction of narrow-body air-crafts to operate between Hong Kong and Bangkok had resulted in the airline losing revenue from carrying 20 Tonnes Daily Cargo as the payload on the A320’s were restricted.
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