State owes SriLankan over Rs. 100 million for Rajapaksa flights

State owes SriLankan over Rs. 100 million for Rajapaksa flights

Written by Staff Writer

21 Jan, 2019 | 10:10 pm

COLOMBO (News 1st): The Presidential Secretariat and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs owes SriLankan Airlines Rs. 122.3 million for chartered flights booked between 2009 and 2014 for former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. This information was revealed today (January 21) at the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on irregularities at SriLankan Airlines, SriLankan Catering, and Mihin Lanka.

Sumudu Priyanka Upatissa the Manager of Revenue Management and Network Planning of SriLankan Airlines. According to what Upatissa told the Commission of Inquiry, that the airline had attempted to secure these payments by writing to the Secretaries of these institutions.

Overall, the Presidential Secretariat and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have booked around 65 flights. While most of these flights have been paid for, the payments due for some have not been paid.

It was earlier revealed that these institutions have booked chartered flights to destinations such as Johannesburg, Tel Aviv, Rome and Bolivia – where SriLankan Airlines does not fly to regularly.

A chartered flight (A340) to Johannesburg in December 2013, for example, carried only 26 passengers – though it had 243 seats. The Presidential Secretariat paid the airline Rs. 36 million for the flight. The A340 aircraft had 38 business class seats and 205 economy class seats.

Upatissa said that for another chartered flight to Tel Aviv, Israel, in January 2014, the Presidential Secretariat had paid the airline Rs.46.3 million. Only 48 passengers had travelled in the flight, which could carry 312 passengers. The plane landed first in Amman, the capital of Jordan, where 42 passengers got off, while only six people flew to Tel Aviv.

According to the SriLankan Manager Network Planning, another chartered flight booked by the Presidential Secretariat to Bolivia in June 2014 cost the state Rs. 57 million. Just 29 passengers travelled in the flight that could carry 312 passengers.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Secretariat had not paid Rs. 43.4 million for a chartered flight to Rome in October 2014. Only 69 passengers had travelled in that aircraft, which could carry 312 passengers.

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