The airline said in response to a Right to Information (RTI) application filed by the Sunday Times that it has no specific details on the contents of uplifting 102 metric tonnes of ‘printed material’ to Entebbe International Airport in Uganda by operating three charter flights of Airbus A333 in February.
“The airway bill and charter agreement both mention the nature of goods as printed matter and do not provide further details. The precise nature of the goods is subjected to review or clearance by Sri Lanka Customs prior to being brought to the cargo terminal for onward carriage by SLA,” the RTI response said.
In any event, SLA stressed that even if this information was in possession of SLA, the precise nature of the goods constitutes exempt information covered by 5(1)(d) of the RTI Act indicating that the cargo originated out of Sri Lanka and the contents were printed matter.
“It falls within commercial confidence because if the precise nature of the goods is revealed, then other airlines and/or cargo agents would also solicit business for these types of goods from the same shipper, to the detriment of SLA.”
The national carrier also refused to divulge information related to who commissioned the cargo to be sent to Uganda, the cost and details of the sender if there are any citing Section 5(1)(d) of the RTI Act.
Pointing out that the release of any information under the RTI Act is equivalent to disclosure into the public domain, SLA said the name of the entity/shipper who commissioned the chartered flight constituted commercial confidence, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of both SLA and third parties. “This is because if the name of the entity/shipper is disclosed, then other airlines would also solicit business from this same shipper to the detriment of SLA. Accordingly the name is exempt information covered by Section 5(1)(d) of the RTI Act,” the airline said.
On February 24, the official Twitter handle of SriLankan Airlines published a tweet saying, “Sri Lankan Cargo made history today by operating three consecutive cargo charter flights to Entebbe International Airport in Uganda by uplifting over 102 metric tons of printed matter.”
The tweet also included images of sealed cargo packages being unloaded in the Entebbe international airport. However, the tweet was later deleted when some social media users raised concerns about the contents of the ‘printed matter’.
A Sri Lanka Customs spokesman said an RTI applications should be filed to obtain the information.