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Thursday, February 2, 2023

Sri Lankan gov’t set to partially privatize national carrier Sri Lankan Airlines

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Because it “no longer can afford to pump money” into running the airline, the Sri Lankan government has revealed plans to partially sell Sri Lankan Airlines.

According to a regional news source the Deccan Herald, Sri Lanka’s aviation minister Nimal Siripala de Silva stated that the government is trying to sell a 49% stake in both the catering and ground-handling divisions of Sri Lankan Airlines.

The transaction is a part of the state-run carrier’s restructuring initiatives. 51% will be kept in reserve by the state.

“This restructuring is essential as the government can no longer afford to inject money into running the airline,” de Silva told local media.

“Annually the government has been providing the airline between $80 billion to $200 billion to run its operations,” he added.

De Silva informed the local media that the airline’s debt, which totals $80 million and was acquired by mortgaging its shares, as well as some other debts, might be settled with the proceeds from the sale of the catering business.

Without keeping a 51% stake, the aviation minister said, Sri Lanka might lose control of the businesses slated for sale.

“So we can only give 49 %. But if the investors are Sri Lankan nationals, we can go for more. There are many rich people in Sri Lanka, they can come together as a syndicate or with airlines and offer a bid,” de Silva said.

One of the objectives of the new administration, when it took office in May 2022, was to sell the national carrier.

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