Privatization option being considered for Sri Lankan Airlines – CEO Richard Nuttall
By Hiran H.Senewiratne
The government is planning to restructure the national carrier, Sri Lankan Airlines, and privatization is one proposed option due to the current financial crisis, Sri Lankan Airlines Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Richard Nuttall said.
“We are now looking at the privatization option as well because the government wants to restructure Sri Lankan Airlines, which is now preparing for the in- coming tourist season. So far we have enough bookings, Nuttall said at a press conference yesterday, which was called to announce, among other things, that Sri Lankan Airlines is the official airline partner for the Sri Lanka’s Masters Hockey World Cup 2022 in England, which will be held from August 12-21 in Nottingham. The press conference was held at the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management auditorium.
Nuttall added: ‘We have 24 aircraft in the fleet, out of which three aircraft are not functioning as those engines have been sent to the Rolls Royce Company for overhaul purposes. At present the entire air industry is facing a unique crisis due to fuel issues. The high air fares are also troubling the industry but they will likely come down in the future.
‘Over the last two years, Sri Lankan tourism and the airline sector got badly hit and we are now in the process of putting infrastructure in place to revive the business and coming forward to sponsor the Masters Hockey World Cup 2022 at this critical juncture is intended to promote and attract tourists into Sri Lanka, which would in turn benefit the airline as well.’
Chairman, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Chalaka Gajabahu said that they, being the main sponsor for the Sri Lanka team, had seen an opportunity to promote Sri Lanka tourism at the World Cup to boost forex inflows at a desperate time amid an economic crisis.
“These hockey Masters could be the best ambassadors to do and their part to keep the nation’s flag flying high and to continue with their good work, Gajabahu said.
According to the chairman, this year they expect close to one million tourists to Sri Lanka and are now in the process of rolling out a 15 -16 month action plan.
‘Sports tourism can be a major way of creating unity and friendship with other nations and spreading a positive message about Sri Lanka to the world, giving a realistic image and a clear description about the island destination, he said.
“This is not a short term goal but rather a long term one because many of the foreigners who hear about Sri Lanka could visit the country in the future. We see it as a golden opportunity through this partnership, he added.
Sri Lanka’s premier paint company, Nippon Paint Lanka (Pvt) Limited, is a co-sponsor of the team.