ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday March 9, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 41

Mihin takes delivery of costly ground handling equipment

By Rohan Abeywardena

The troubled budget airline, Mihin Air which has still not paid the salaries of its employees for February was yesterday scheduled to take delivery of more than 30 container loads of expensive ground handling equipment from Germany. Mihin Air’s Head of Operations Athula Dissanayake who was at the Bandaranaike International Airport till late evening to receive the equipment claimed that due to some transport problem the consignment was stuck at the Colombo Port.

Apparently the troubled carrier had rushed to purchase this equipment after the national carrier SriLankan earlier this year suddenly stopped providing such services to Mihin as it had run up huge sums in unpaid bills. The Government however intervened immediately and got SriLankan to restore the services.

The budget carrier is in such dire straits that virtually all its services providers have stopped giving it credit, including the State Petroleum Corporation, which sells it fuel only on cash-on-delivery basis. Mr. Dissanayake however claimed that the ground handling equipment that was scheduled to be delivered yesterday was ordered by another private company, but he refused to name the company or give any further details.

Most of its woes have been attributed to its Chief Executive Officer Sajin Vass Gunawardena taking hasty decisions with no sense of sticking to its budget or its carefully drafted business plan.

The airliner now reduced to one single wet leased aircraft is struggling to cover its dozen or so destinations it hurried into flying, whereas its business plan had called for step-by-step expansion of the route network.Mr. Gunawardena is also accused of hiring senior managers at astronomical salaries. One senior manager is said to be paid Rs.800,000 per month in addition to a company car and other perks.

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