Pilots: Cost of aircraft lease agreements much higher than market price


By Rathindra Kuruwita

The cost of aircraft lease agreements, signed by SriLankan Airlines in recent times, was 30-40% higher than the current market price, President of the Airline Pilots’ Guild of Sri Lanka (APGSL) Ranjith Vithanage told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) on irregularities at SriLankan Airlines, SriLankan Catering and Mihin Lanka yesterday.

Vithanage said he had ascertained the information at issue during discussions with senior officers and representatives of the Aviation Consultants, Nyras of UK, restructuring of the airline. 

"During a discussion with Nyras, which was also attended by R. Paskaralingam, attached to the Finance Ministry, they accepted that the cost of the SriLankan agreements was higher than market value. Ajith Dias, Chairman of SriLankan Airlines Ltd. has also told us that the lease agreements we have entered into are unworkable."

The APGSL President said it had not been able to determine what process had been followed in entering into those agreements. He urged the commission to look at the lease agreements and summon relevant officials.

"We have leased six twin engine aircraft of SriLankan Airlines that lacked ETOPS or Extended Twin Operations certification resulting in a massive loss. This agreement was entered into during the time of Nishantha Wickramasinghe as the Chairman SriLankan Airlines. Last year the new management renewed the lease for three 20 year old A 330-200 aircraft, which are expensive to operate and maintain due to their age. We heard that we have leased them at USD 250,000 each per month and it costs USD one million a month to maintain one. They should be grounded."

It was also revealed that in 2017 SriLankan had spent Rs. 22 billion as rental for leased aircraft, Rs. 17 billion to maintain them and Rs 12 billion on marketing and advertising.

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