Sri Lanka is planning to offer a 49 per cent ownership and management stake in its loss-making national carrier to cut losses and transform the airline to a profitable venture.
The move would signal a return to foreign management and partnership after a 10-year contract with Emirates ended in March 2008 without any extension. The Dubai carrier had a 43 per cent stake (at an investment of US$70 million) and full management control of the airline.
SriLankan Airlines does not own any aircraft – its entire fleet of 23 planes are on lease.
Civil aviation minister Nimal Siripala De Silva said the airline has suffered huge losses so far and could be in deeper trouble unless an outsider takes over soon.
The airline’s accumulated loss in the 2020-2021 financial year was 49.7 billion rupees (US$138 million). During Emirates management from March 2007 to March 2008, it was profitable leading up to the last year with a profit of five billion rupees.
From March 2008 to March 2009, while under Sri Lankan government control, a loss of 10 billion rupees was reported.
From 2016 to 2019, a similar effort to secure a foreign investor to the airline was also unsuccessful.