Monday, May 05, 2008

Sri Lankan airline Mihin Lanka suspends operations

Mihin Lanka A320Mihin Lanka, the budget airline owned by the government of Sri Lanka, has suspended operations indefinitely. The reason, according to news reports: they have no planes!

As reported yesterday by the Sri Lankan news website The Sunday Times Online:
The carrier’s last aircraft, an Airbus A-321 taken on wet lease from BH Air, based in Bulgaria, was reclaimed by its owners on Thursday, with all the aircraft’s staff, equipment and stores. It is understood that the cash-strapped carrier, which in its first year of operation was already billions of rupees in debt, was unable to come up with the cash to renew the lease.

Mihin began operations in April last year and stopped flying a year later, at the end of last month. Mihin Lanka’s controversial CEO Sajin de Vass Gunewardena was due to leave the airline at the end of April this year.
The Sunday Times also says that Mihin Lanka has been "scouring markets in Europe and India in a bid to obtain new aircraft on a dry lease, at a lower cost."

A number of news outlets in Sri Lanka have reported that Mihin Lanka's CEO, Sajin Vaas Gunawardene, resigned several weeks ago.

A visit to the Mihin Lanka website yielded no public messages or news releases about suspension of operations, however the "Flight Information" page said " NO FLIGHTS ARE SCHEDULED FOR TODAY." The "Flight Schedule" page lists flights between Colombo and a number of destinations during the period of June 1, 2008 to October 25, 2008. Perhaps the Mihin Lanka management believes they will have some aircraft available by the first of June.

[Photo Source]