Struggling Sri Lankan airline gets fresh lease of life

September 24th, 2008 - 5:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Sep 24 (IANS) Sri Lanka’s state-owned budget airline, reeling under a colossal financial loss, is set to get a new lease of life with the government planning to procure six aircraft from China early next year.According to media reports, Sri Lanka’s Minister of Ports and Aviation, Chamal Rajapaksa, said in parliament Tuesday that the budget airline, Mihin Lanka, was launched with good intentions, “but (that) it ended up in disaster” due to mismanagement.

“We have studied our mistakes and I’m sure we can make this a profit-making venture. We are planning to purchase six Chinese aircraft and recommence Mihin Lanka operations under a new administration,” The Bottomline English newspaper quoted Rajapaksa as saying.

The aviation minister, who is the elder brother of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, said the new plan was to focus “more on internal and short distance travel in the future”.

Mihin Lanka launched its operation in April last year and has reportedly incurred a loss of about $30 million to date. It began with a working capital of $5 million and had scheduled services to Trivandrum and Tiruchirapalli in India, Dubai, Male, Bangkok and Singapore.

Currently, the airline has no aircraft as its only leased Airbus A321 was taken away by the aircraft’s Bulgarian owner in April.

The issue was debated at length in parliament after opposition parliamentarians moved an adjournment motion Tuesday.

Power and Energy Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage said that it was a serious blunder made by the previous management that led to the collapse of airline.

“The Mihin administration made a lot of blunders. They leased two planes without even having a business plan or landing rights in the targeted destinations,” he said.

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