There are no suitable suitors for the national carrier SriLankan Airlines, Ports, Shipping and Aviation Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said yesterday.

While only 49 percent of the shares of the carrier can be transferred to another entity, de Silva pointed out that there has been “minimal global interest in the opportunity”.
“… only six individuals expressing interest, none of whom were deemed suitable. Even if we were to extend this opportunity to a Sri Lankan entrepreneur, their capabilities would need to be demonstrated,” said de Silva addressing a press briefing at the Presidential Media Centre yesterday.

He added that the government’s approach involves in restructuring the airline rather than selling it outright.

In April, Requests for Qualification were received from AirAsia Consulting Sdn. Bhd., Dharshaan Elite Investment Holding (Pvt.) Ltd, FITS Aviation (Private) Limited, Sherisha Technologies Private Limited, Treasure Republic Guardians Limited and Hayleys PLC.

Considering the difficulty of attracting investors, with the debt burden of SriLankan Airlines, the government decided to transfer US $ 310 million worth of local loans guaranteed by the General Treasury to the government.

To safeguard the national carrier, the government offered assistance by issuing a Rs.5 billion equity contribution to support its ongoing cash flow problems in the first four months of 2024. 

SriLankan Airlines recorded a revenue of Rs.333.6 billion in the fiscal year 2023/24, a decrease of 8.6 percent, compared to Rs.365.2 billion in 2022/23. 

It recorded a profit before tax of Rs.7.3 billion in 2023/24, compared to a Rs.73.3 billion loss recorded in 2022/23, mainly due to converting the exchange loss of Rs.25.6 billion in 2022/23 to an exchange gain of Rs.0.5 billion in 2023/24.

Ada Derena