By: Staff Writer
Colombo (LNW): Minister of Ports and Aviation Nimal Siripala de Silva has revealed that the recent delays of eight flights have caused losses to the tune of US$ 06 million to the national carrier SriLankan Airlines.
A special discussion pertaining to the recent repeated SriLankan Airlines flight delays and cancellations was held this morning (02), chaired by Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva.
SriLankan Airlines management and all affiliated trade union representatives, at the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Aviation attended the meeting.
Hundreds of passengers faced severe inconvenience yesterday (1) morning when two SriLankan Airlines flights, scheduled to take off for Nepal and India, from the BIA, were cancelled due to technical problems, airline sources said.
Airline pilots’ guild of Sri Lanka noted that the passengers’ safety is the utmost priority for them and the reason of the flight delys was the technical issue in the plane dengerous to fly Nepal, with mountainous terrain and frequent fog.
Flight UL-180 scheduled to depart for Kathmandu, Nepal, at 8:20 a.m. was delayed and over 200 passengers were stranded including State Minister Sisira Jayakody.
During the discussion, the representatives of the engineers’ trade unions stated that the recent flight delays were caused by the technical failures in several aircraft, however, the authorities of Sri Lankan Airlines have claimed that this situation arose as a result of certain trade union actions.
Following inquiries by the officials and trade union representatives, the Aviation Minister expressed that there are about 260 pilots for the 21 aircraft currently in operation with the airline and that accordingly, 12 pilots can be assigned per aircraft in rotation, and that this is in line with international standards.
Furthermore, Minister de Silva, who highlighted that a flight officer must fly 100 hours per month according to international regulations, pointed out that in general, a SriLankan Airlines pilot has flown only around 60 hours per month as per the available data.
He also claimed that if one pilot of the airline flew at least 80 hours per month, such an issue would not have arisen.
Moreover, the minister also drew attention to the fact that there is an issue within the trade unions regarding their salaries and allowances.
However, the Aviation Minister claimed that SriLankan Airlines Ltd. has to pay back loans amounting to a total of USD 1.2 billion as well as their interest.
Meanwhile, the losses incurred during the recent few days due to the delays in nearly 08 flights were USD 06 million, the minister said, emphasizing that it was therefore neither possible to make any allowance nor any salary increment for the employees at the time.
The minister, however stressed to the trade union representatives that nevertheless, if the productivity of the airline is increased, certain payments can be made based on their productivity.
Nimal Siripala de Silva, who claimed that he holds a great responsibility to provide high-quality service to air passengers as the aviation minister, asserted that accordingly, he decided to hand over the right to operate these flights for other airlines while protecting the rights of SriLankan Airlines.