Jan 29, 2018

SriLankan Board votes to sack CEO Suren Ratwatte Featured

The Board of Directors of SriLankan Airlines, which won a new lease of life, decided by majority vote to sack their Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Suren Ratwatte. The board met on Thursday for the first time after all of them except one handed in their resignations, but Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe asked them to continue in office until the board was reconstituted. The board took up the continuation of Mr. Ratwatte as CEO of the national airline despite it not being on the agenda and voted by a majority a 5-2 vote to remove him.

The CEO was to be told verbally of the board decision to be followed by a letter. However, the Sunday Times learns that Prime Minister Wickremesinghe has said that a ‘caretaker board of directors’ had no power to take such action. He said the removal of the CEO would be a matter for the Minister in charge of the airline, Kabir Hashim to decide. There was also a Ministerial Committee and a separate Restructuring Committee of the airline that needed to be consulted.

Among those who voted against the removal of the CEO was the airline’s Chairman. One of the issues raised against the CEO Ratwatte is that he had falsely misled the COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises), the parliamentary oversight committee, a matter on which the board had charge sheeted him in November last year. At least one board has initiated a separate investigation on revenue management under the CEO, as well.

CEO Ratwatte, a former captain with Emirates has also had run-ins with the SriLankan’s trade unions, including the Pilots’ Guild.