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SriLankan Airlines Chairman Ajith Dias and five directors have offered to resign to support the government’s restructuring plan.

Contacted by the Daily News, Mr. Dias said that of the seven directors in the director board, six of them have tendered their resignation letters in support of the government’s restructuring initiative of Airline. Mr. Dias told Daily News that he and five directors except for Harendra Balapatabendi resigned to pave way for a new director board, if needed.

Mr. Dias said that the ministerial committee appointed to look into the restructuring of Sri Lankan Airlines sat for discussions last Wednesday where the international consultant to look into the matter submitted its restructuring plan to the committee.

He stated that the Board of Directors offered their resignation letters immediately the day following discussions with the said committee. Mr. Dias said they have tendered their resignation letters to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who heads the ministerial committee on restructuring SriLankan Airlines.

Commenting on the restructuring plan, Mr. Dias said that it is a fitting move by the government and stressed the importance of continuing with a Board of Directors in a new management structure for the national carrier.

On the same subject, the Public Enterprise Ministry Secretary has stated that the ministry has not yet received an official resignation from the SriLankan Airlines Director Board, the media spokesman to the minister told Daily News.

A ministerial committee chaired by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and an official committee headed by Treasury Secretary Dr. R. H. S. Samaratunga were appointed to look into the restructuring of SriLankan Airlines in November.

The two committees were also tasked with the selection of a suitable strategic partner and investor to operate the national carrier.

SriLankan Airlines which was a profit making establishment began to accumulate losses when the previous regime changed its management from Emirates Airlines.

The management agreement between Emirates and SriLankan Airlines ended in 2008 in a backdrop where the Rajapaksa regime cancelled the visa of then Emirates Chief Executive, Peter Hill over a disagreement. Emirates exited the airline after 2008 selling their 40 percent share to the government.

The accumulated profits during Emirate-managed SriLankan Airlines was around Rs 4.4 billion. The loss incurred in the seven years, from 2008 to the end of 2014, under the local management appointed by the previous regime was around Rs. 107 billion.

By 2015 national carrier’s accumulated losses stood at Rs. 128 billion rupees with debt of Rs. 76 billion and balance sheet discrepancies of Rs. 74 billion. The staff members of 5,113 in 2008, was also increased to 6,987 by 2015 which increased the operations cost of the airline.

The losses escalated as the previous regime decided to buy A330 and A350 aircraft in a reckless manner. The previous government signed an agreement worth of Rs. 143 billion, leasing fifteen aircraft for the SriLankan Airlines, without a cost benefit analysis. The agreement was on seven A330 narrow bodied aircraft and eight A350 wide bodied air craft.

Presidential Commission for SriLankan

President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday said a Presidential Commission will be appointed to investigate into the alleged abuse of state money and public property involving SriLankan Airlines and Mihin Lanka, in the first week of January.

He made these remarks addressing a SLFP public rally held in Kaduwela yesterday morning.