Written by Zulfick Farzan
04 Jul, 2018 | 9:04 pm
COLOMBO (News 1st) – While travelling on the roads of Colombo it’s not an unusual sight to see a broken down car or van being pushed by 2 or more people but when have you ever heard of an Airplane being pushed onto a tarmac? According to what was revealed at the Presidential Commission today this is exactly what had happened at the BIA in 2008.
Ingrid Guruge, who was a member of the Mihin Lanka’s initial staff provided evidence before the commission today and said that in 2008 Mihin Lanka Ground Handling had physically pushed a plane, to enable it to fly to its destination. Ingird also said that when personnel were recruited to the budget airline most of those appointed to the managerial positions were those who had retired from SriLankan Airlines and were above the retirement age.
Since incorporation, the ground handling of Mihin Lanka Private Limited was completely handled by SriLankan Airlines. In March 2008, Plane Steps, Trolleys, Tractors and Baggage High Loaders believed to be manufactured in Germany were brought down for Mihin’s ground handling operations. However, these were all second-hand equipment. The equipment was so good that officials did not even consider putting one imported catering truck into use.
Surprisingly, the equipment was handled solely by SriLankan Airlines as the national carrier maintained the monopoly on this process. In addition, thought Mihin Lanka was launched as a Budget Airline, it later served food on board, provided a 20 kg baggage allowance and also had a business class, which is a deviation from the term of Budget Airlines.
Mihin Lanka’s first plane, an Airbus A320-200 was obtained from a Bulgarian airline on a wet lease. The second airplane, an A321-200 was obtained from Turkish Airlines through another wet lease. After the lease expired, the Mihin Lanka Staff had worked for a period of nine months without any pay hoping the new management would revive the airline.
When Mihin Lanka was liquidated, of its four planes, three were taken over by SriLankan Airlines and one was returned to the owner. The witness went on to note from 2012 to 2013 both Mihin Lanka and SriLankan Airlines had the same CEO Kapila Chandrasena and Chairman Nishantha Wickremesinghe.
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