COLOMBO (News1st) – The Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) into SriLankan Airlines convened once again today (August 21) to investigate into matters of abuse, misuse and mismanagement of the company’s resources.
The Commission again looked into matters regarding General Sales Agreements (GSAs), it had agreed with partners overseas.
Testifying before the commission, a high ranking administrative official at SriLankan airlines revealed that serious departures from due process took place in the assigning of GSAs to Russia and Australia.
The testimony revealed that Sri Lanka Airlines had considered the possibility of signing a GSA with a Russian party as early as 2009, back when the airline flew to Moscow on a codeshare agreement basis. At the time, Sri Lankan had considered partnering with a firm named Westline International but had soon abandoned this idea when they started flying directly to Russia.
In what was a deviation from regular conduct, it was upon the recommendations of then Ambassador to Russia, Udayanga Weeratunga that the GSA to the territories of the Russian Federation and Ukraine had been signed with a firm called Sri Lankan Limited LLC in 2011.
It was further revealed that internal memos cited the Ambassador’s ‘good relationship’ with those in Moscow as the basis for accepting his recommendation. The witness further said that Former Ambassador Weeratunga had initially recommended the appointment of a Regional Manager to Russia for Sri Lankan Airlines
Subsequently to the appointment of the very person recommended by the former Ambassador, he himself had opposed this appointment. The reasons for the opposition given by the former Ambassador was, according to the witness, personal reasons. Udayanaga Weeratunga has been named as a wanted fugitive and is being hunted by Sri Lankan authorities, the United Arab Emirates and INTERPOL
Sri Lankan Airlines had been in search of a new partner in Australia following the expiry of their existing GSA and were approached by Sri Lankan Aviation Group in 2012.The witness revealed the appointment of this partner was done on the recommendation of the Chairman, Nishantha Wickramasinghe.
The witness then revealed that, suspiciously, although the Directors were Australian Nationals, all office holders were of Sri Lankan descent. This included an individual named Sasanka Dilan Ariyawansa, who was a beneficial shareholder.
The official further stated that she was unable to find any documentation as to who the owner of the company was. These revelations were in addition to many other dubious activities including the excessive paying of commissions.
The commission will convene, on Thursday (August 23).