Written by Staff Writer
08 Nov, 2018 | 9:40 pm
Colombo (News1st): Providing evidence before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on irregularities at SriLankan Airlines, SriLankan Catering, and Mihin Lanka today (November 08), was the former head of operations at Mihin Lanka, Captain Nihal Gunewardena.
The witness states that the former CEO of Mihin Lanka, Sajin Vass Gunewardena, did not possess the required qualifications, experience or even a basic understanding of the aviation industry and his incompetency as CEO was the main reason for Mihin Lanka to incur billions of losses to public funds.
Testifying before the commission, witness Nihal Gunewardena stated the former CEO of Mihin Lanka Sajin Vaas Gunewardena procured aircraft like buying old taxis.
During the year 2007, Mihin Lanka had procured two aircraft. However, these aircraft were bought in even before Mihin Lanka obtained overflight clearance, resulting in both aircraft remaining idle for more than a month.
The Airbus A320 that remained commercially unviable for 40 days, incurred a daily rental of 1,044,580 rupees, resulting in a total loss of more than 114 million US dollars for the period. An additional USD 62,400 per month was incurred to provide accommodation for cabin crew members, resulting in a total of Rs. 75 million for a year.
The second aircraft was also loss-making, and according to the witness was never inspected by Mihin Lanka. This aircraft incurred losses of 1.9 million US dollars, nearly 207 million rupees per year.
A further loss of 62, 400 USD per month was incurred due to the former CEO not knowing the difference between the terms lessor and lessee.
The witness also revealed that another aircraft named f27 was registered under Mihin Lanka, for a short-term period, for the purpose of obtaining an airlines certification.
According to the witness, many appointments to the airlines were made against proper recruitment procedures, and the former CEO headed this list. He stated that the only qualification Sajin Vass Gunawardena as the accountability manager possessed was his relationship with the former president as coordinating secretary.
Many decisions of the former CEO was incompetent, childish, and lacked basic comprehension resulting in huge losses the public had to bear.
It was also revealed that Mihin Airways had deviated from several safety regulations, risking the lives of hundreds of passengers. According to the witness, aircraft were not equipped with sufficient life jackets, and smoking inside aircraft was encouraged.
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