State Finance Minister Eran Wickramaratne yesterday charged that European aircraft manufacturer Airbus SE should have been more responsible when trying to sell eight A350-900s to a small airline and an economy like Sri Lanka, where the Government is grappling to overcome major financial difficulties.
“I think the Airbus also has a responsibility.
They should have taken note whether a small country like us, with a small GDP and a small airline competing internationally, should be sold these aircraft.
Sellers and buyers both have responsibility in an economy,” he told at the Advocata Economic Freedom Summit held in Colombo.
The State Minister noted it was unfortunate that Sri Lanka had to already pay nearly $ 100 million in terminating four planes, while still having four more in its books to date.
Wickramaratne also claimed that the National Carrier SriLankan Airlines did not have a financial and economic proposition to operate.
“Clearly there is a problem in SriLankan Airlines, but what should we do with it? It doesn’t matter who is in charge, it doesn’t matter what the management team is; fundamentally is there a business and economic proposition for SriLankan Airlines in the current economic context of the airline industry? My personal view is that there isn’t a financial and economic proposition,” he pointed out.
Emphasising the need to be honest, the State Minister questioned: “How much we are willing to pay if SriLankan Airlines is to bring some kind of national pride to fly the flag in the air?”
He stressed the eight A350-900 long-range, twin-engine wide-body aircraft did not fit the National Carrier’s strategy.
Acknowledging that the issue was a political question and not an economic or financial one, Wickramaratne said: “A political question needs a political answer and sometimes we have to make political decisions.”