The SriLankan Airlines Corporate Affairs Division has sent the following response to The Sunday Times over our last week’s story headlined “Emirates does well for SriLankan in final years”.
The airline says:
“This article contained several factual inaccuracies with regard to the dismissal of a pilot. We wish to provide the correct facts to ensure that your readers are not misled.
“We wish to first refer you to the media release by SriLankan Airlines on July 29, 2008, which provides a full and detailed report on the incident. We trust that if your journalist had referred to this media release, he would not have made such factual errors.
“SriLankan Airlines wishes to state that the safety of our passengers was never compromised, even to the slightest degree. The pilot in question is in fact a qualified Captain. At the time of his recruitment as a Captain on the Airbus A330, he, to date, holds a valid Airline Transport Pilot’s Licence from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Federal Republic of Germany, which endorsed his rating as a Captain on the A340, A330 and A320 aircraft. This licence is issued in accordance with the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the global governing body of the industry.
“Indeed, in many other airlines he would have been recruited as a Captain on the strength of his experience and qualifications. However, SriLankan Airlines sets a very high standard for its pilots, which requires that a direct entry Captain possesses a minimum of 1,000 hours of flying as a Captain, in addition to other requirements such as a minimum of 4,500 hours of flying as a First Officer prior to becoming a Captain. “It was discovered on July 22, 2008 that this Captain had misrepresented that he had been a Captain at another major international airline in order to satisfy the requirement of 1,000 required hours as a Captain. He had done so by providing a falsified letter to SriLankan Airlines.
“Accordingly, SriLankan Airlines held an inquiry the very next day and dismissed the pilot from service on July24.
“Your writer has alleged that SriLankan did not initiate action against the pilot concerned. However, the correct situation is that SriLankan Airlines immediately reported the matter to the Police Department with full disclosure and lodged a formal complaint on July 26 at the Katunayake Police Station. We understand that the Police are now taking further action about the falsification of documents.
“In addition, the airline also provided a full report to the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka, and the Ministry of Aviation, for further action.
“The airline did not claim money from the pilot, as alleged in the article. But he was asked to repay costs of his training, which he settled in full. The paramount concerns of the National Carrier remain to ensure safety of passengers and to maintain the high standards of integrity and trustworthiness of its employees, especially those in key positions.
We can supply your writer copies of the relevant documents, including a copy of the police complaint for his perusal, if need be.”
Our reporter notes:
SriLankan by its own admission says this pilot “had misrepresented that he had been a Captain at another major international airline in order to satisfy the requirement of 1,000 required hours as a Captain”. Had the airline done a basic background check on this employee from his previous employer as one senior police officer looking into the case said yesterday no such problems would have arisen.
Surely this man was not recruited to drive a three wheeler but an aircraft that carries about 300 passengers across continents, so why did the airline failed to carry out this basic check which any mercantile establishment would do before recruiting an employee? We like to ask whether this is not a clear case of compromising the safety of its passengers when it does not check thoroughly the qualifications of its pilots.
The airline also says it did not claim any money from the pilot, but in the very next sentence it contradicts itself by stating “But he was asked to repay costs of his training, which he settled in full.” And to claim this money the Human Resources Division of SriLankan had lodged a complaint with the airport police.