Lankan carrier mulls deal to lease aircraft to Pak

Colombo : Sri Lanka’s ailing flag carrier is expected to come to an agreement with Pakistan International Airlines to wet-lease its surplus Airbus A330 aircraft to PIA, the government said today.

Talks are also underway to transfer another three aircraft, the government said.

State Enterprise Minister Kabir Hashim said the first aircraft is expected to be deployed to fly between London, Islamabad and Lahore will be flown by SriLankan Airlines pilots.

“There will be no job losses as a result,” he said.

The massively debt-ridden airline had already stopped loss making routes to Paris, Frankfurt and Rome.

The government was also trying to lay off or cancel Airbus A350-900s ordered by the previous government, Hashim said.

Hashim’s Deputy Minister Eran Wickramaratne said at a previous press conference that SriLankan Airlines, which made profit of Rs 4.4 billion in 2008 had lost Rs 107 billion since.

This was due to the former government of Mahinda Rajapaksa taking over the airline from the management of Emirates.

Emirates left the management of the airline in 2008 by selling their 40 per cent stake to the government.

By 2015 accumulated loss was Rs 128 billion and debt of Rs 76 billion (USD 542 million).

The treasury has been injecting USD 100 million to the airline annually. The airline staff which was 5,113 in 2008, had been increased to 6,987 by 2015.