The terms and conditions of the Sri Lankan Airlines agreement with Emirates Airlines, due to be renewed next March, would be to Sri Lanka`s advantage. The present agreement with Emirates signed during President Chandrika Kumaratunga`s government is heavily tilted in favour of Emirates, Deputy Minister of Aviation Sarath Kumara Gunaratne told The Island yesterday.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa was keen to renew the agreement to be advantageous to Sri Lanka and talks have been held at the highest level to review the agreement in favour of Sri Lanka, he said.
A special committee to study the present position with regard to the working of the Sri Lankan Airlines was appointed
by President Mahinda Rajapaksa two weeks ago. It comprises the Finance Ministry Secretary, BOI Chairman and Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Gunaratna said.
The Deputy Minister said he held talks with the CEO of Sri Lankan Airlines Peter Hill to review problems of the employees like the bonus issue. This was the first time the management of Sri Lankan has held talks with a minister or a deputy since the agreement with Emirates was signed.
There had been no benefit to Sri Lanka under the agreement with Emirates as all services including ground handling, landing rights and other sources of income benefited only the Emirates.
Even a coconut or the smallest fruit, fish or vegetable was purchased from abroad and no local purchases were made by the Sri Lankan Airlines catering section. This will have to be changed, he said.
He said the government will not privatize the national flag carrier but make it a true national venture. A number of international airlines were interested in signing an agreement with the Sri Lankan Airlines and the best terms would be taken into consideration.