Mihin proud to have President on board - CEO of Mihin Lanka
Mihin Lanka Chief Sajin de Vass Gunawardena said it was a privilege
for the airline to have President Mahinda Rajapaksa on board the flight
from London on December 13.
Gunawardena said media reports which indicated that this was Mihin’s
first flight to Europe were wrong. Mihin had earlier flown President
Rajapaksa and his delegation to Rome, he said.
“As patriotic citizens of this country we are proud to take the
President of Sri Lanka on board Mihin Lanka.
We have not only gone to Europe flying the President of our Nation
but to India, Maldives, Uganda, Iran, Japan, Rome and England. We don’t
take pride in refusing seats for the President of our country, because
we are a true Sri Lankan Government owned airline established for the
people of Sri Lanka,” he said.
Meanwhile, it is understood that 28 pilots have decided to leave the
employment of SriLankan Airlines in January 2008 owing to displeasures
they are having with the management headed by CEO Peter Hill.
A source close to the airline said the Government must take a firm
stand on this issue and engage these pilots in a discussion so as to
address their grievances and restrain them from leaving Sri Lankan.
“Is it that the Emirates Management is seeking to ground the
SriLankan Airlines operations and or engaged in arm twisting pending the
negotiations between Emirates and the Government of Sri Lanka in respect
of the extension of the Management Contract ?,” he asked.
He said in another move, two A340 aircraft whose lease payments were
fully completed have been sold by Emirates and re-leased to SriLankan.
“What is better for Sri Lankan Air Lines ? To operate its own aircraft
or pay millions of dollars for leased aircraft ?,” he asked.
It is pertinent to note that ten years ago when the national carrier,
Air Lanka was privatised Air Lanka owned ten (10) aircraft.
Today Sri Lankan owns no aircraft. Aviation sources said when Air
Lanka was privatised ten years ago it had around US$ 180 Million dollars
as dollar reserve deposits, as against no reserves at all today.
“If the Government of Sri Lanka does not take any action to rectify
these and pull back the national airline by March 30, 2008 all that will
be left is an airline without key staff and aircraft.”