Eran to head SriLankan Airlines restructuring committee

Tuesday, 8 January 2019 00:15 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday held the first meeting with the newly appointed committee of experts to make recommendations for restructuring SriLankan Airlines, headed by State Minister of Finance Eran Wickramaratne 


  • Dr. Harsha de Silva only other politician with a host of state officials and two former SriLankan Airlines officials in 10-member committee
  • Committee to evaluate all restructuring plans developed already and present recommendations in two weeks

By Chathuri Dissanayake

President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday appointed a ten-member committee headed by State Minister Eran Wickramaratne to make recommendations for a restructuring strategy for loss making SriLankan Airlines. The committee of experts comprises Central Bank Senior Deputy Governor Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe, University of Sri Jayewardenepura Professor Dissa Bandara, Association of Public Finance Accountants of Sri Lanka President V. Kanagasabhapathy, Deputy Auditor General L. S. I Jayaratne, Attorney General’s Department Senior Deputy Solicitors General Viraj Dayaratne, Senior State Counsel Mahen Gopallawa, The Finance Company PLC Chairman Wasantha Kumarasiri, former SriLankan Airlines officials Dr. Dharmadatne Herath and Ajith Amarasekara, with Dr.Harsha De Silva being the only other politician appointed to make recommendations. Thisuri Wanniarachchi will be the convener of the committee. 

According to the Terms of Reference, the committee is to conduct a comprehensive study and review of the present vision, mission objectives strategies, cooperate plan and action plan of the airline and submit recommendations for policy guidance with regard to the restructuring with two weeks.

In last financial year (2017/18) SriLankan posted a $ 105 million loss (over Rs. 16 billion then) and as at end FY17 had Rs. 170 billion as accumulated losses

Since the beginning of 2015, the Government has appointed a number of committees comprising various professionals and individuals to carry out the restructuring of the struggling national airline which has been making massive losses over a period of time. The last one was headed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe with the committee working alongside to make recommendations. Following recommendations, the State enterprise hired Nyras, a British aviation consultant, to prepare a compressive restructuring plan for the airline. The Wickremesinghe-led Government also appointed a new management board to spearhead the restructuring. The board changed during the 51 days of political turmoil in the country. A separate restructuring plan has been put together by the new board. 

The new committee is to evaluate the different restructuring plans developed by the different committees and make recommendations to the President, Dr.Harsha de Silva told Daily FT. 

“We are to look at different proposals and give different options to the President. Currently there are massive leakages of revenue in the airline, the running of which we need to dichotomize. We need to separate the corporate interests and the national benefits of the airline. We need to evaluate the commercial enterprise and understand what is beneficial and viable for the airline. The decisions that are taken with national interests will then have to be taken separately and evaluate the role of the Treasury in this regard,” De Silva said. 

The State-owned enterprise which was previously underPublic Enterprise Development Ministry has not been assigned to any ministry after the new cabinet was appointed in December. It is not immediately clear if the President will retain the entity under his portfolio or assign it to a different ministry. The President appointed the new committee after he met with the management board and unions of the airline last week to review the status of the entity.