State-run Mihin Lanka, a loss-making budget carrier created by one of ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s close associates with people’s money, will be absorbed into SriLankan Airlines, a full service carrier, a top official said.
SriLankan Airlines Chairman Ajith Dias said the government go ahead is awaited for the proposal to merge the operations of the two airlines.
Mihin Lanka operates four leased short-haul aircraft, with SriLankan pilots operating them, and some sectors run as code-shares.
Dias said a lease of one aircraft is ending shortly and another will end next January. The remaining two aircraft will be operated by SriLankan.
After the merger, all flights will carry SriLankan’s UL code.
Mihin flying to Dhaka in Bangladesh which is a good sector, he said. SriLankan will continue to fly the sector.
On some pilgrimage destinations such as Varanasi, SriLankan may continue to offer lower priced economy tickets, Dias said.
Budget airlines typically charge for meals separately, which reduce both aircrew and costs, but the loss-making Mihin also gave free meals.
SriLankan itself has made massive losses since 2008, when its managing shareholder was ousted by ex-President Rajapaksa, reportedly because the then-management did not kick out enough ordinary passengers to accommodate the full Presidential entourage in one aircraft.
Mihin Lanka was started by Sajin Vass Gunawarndena, one of Rajapaksa’s close associates. The airline had been mired in irregularities and corruption.