PCOI queries how SriLankan could buy new aircraft amid heavy losses

The Chairman of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCOI) on SriLankan Airlines (SLA), SriLankan Catering and Mihin Lanka queried SLA’s Financial Management Head as to how the airline could think of purchasing new aircraft while incurring heavy losses for several years.

Chairman, retired Supreme Court Judge Anil Gooneratne was referring to the aircraft that were purchased by the airline under the 2011-2016 business plan prepared by Via-Capital, an international consultancy firm replacing the business plan prepared by S.A. Chandrasekara in 2010.

The witness, Financial Management Head Yasantha Dissanayake replied the Chairman that he was not in a position to answer that question and it should be asked from the senior management including the CEO. Dissanayake continued his testimony for the third consecutive day on Thursday.

During his previous testimony, it was revealed by Dissanayake that the airline had incurred losses amounting to USD 805.5 million between 2011/12 , 2015/16, when the Via Capital business plan was in effect. Then Chairman Gooneratne asked the witness why the company went ahead with this plan when they had not enough money to execute it.

Dissanayake said he could not give an answer for that and added that he had no access to the relevant documents either.He also said that it is a question that should be asked from Government policy makers.

“If it was your money, you have a sense of it.

This was not yours but, public money,” Commissioner, Justice Gamini Rohan Amarasekera said.

Chairman Gooneratne asked as to what the international aviation consultancy firm, Via-Capital was supposed to do with the airline’s business plan. Dissanayake said it was to validate Chandrasekara’s business plan but, later they had come up with a new plan replacing Chandrasekara’s plan.

The PCoI will continue with the testimony of Head of Financial Management next week as well. It will summon former SriLankan Airlines CEO Suren Ratwatte to question him on the cancellation of Airbus A350-900 leases in 2016, soon. 

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