- By Derek Cai & Zarina McDonald
- BBC News
16 minutes ago
Image supply, Getty Pictures
Sri Lanka’s national carrier has been struggling against even extra headwinds than quite a few of its rivals.
Airlines about the globe have been buffeted by the influence of nations closing their borders in the course of the pandemic and soaring fuel rates due to the Ukraine war.
State-owned SriLankan Airlines is also facing the worst financial crisis for decades in its household nation.
Its British-born boss told the BBC how he plans to turn the firm about.
“I believe the very first lesson for me is do not ever go and be a CEO in the course of Covid,” Richard Nuttall, the chief executive of SriLankan Airlines, jokes when asked what his largest takeaway is from the final two years.
Mr Nuttall has spent decades in the airline business, operating with names which includes Cathay Pacific and Philippines Airlines.
He became the chief executive of SriLankan Airlines in April final year, following joining the corporation in November 2021 as its chief industrial officer.
He joined the loss-creating carrier following Sri Lanka eased its coronavirus border restrictions and hopes had been higher that the firm was set to see a recovery in passenger numbers.
Richard Nuttall became the CEO of SriLankan Airlines in April 2022
Nevertheless, the financial challenges that had been dragging on the nation due to the fact ahead of the pandemic deepened in the summer time of 2021.
A series of missteps by the government resulted in the worst financial crisis due to the fact the country’s independence, depleting Sri Lanka’s foreign reserves necessary to import every little thing from meals to fuel.
Soaring rates saw protesters taking to the streets, which hammered the country’s tourism business, which was crucial to its economy.
Nations that advised their citizens to not travel to Sri Lanka smacked of “double requirements”, Mr Nuttall stated.
“In the west, protest is a sign of democracy and no one troubles travel advisories. But when you have a protest in someplace like Sri Lanka, everyone slaps on travel advisories.”
In February, Sri Lanka secured a $3bn (£2.4bn) bailout from the International Monetary Fund.
As portion of the program to rebuild its shattered economy, the government aims to raise funds by privatising SriLankan Airlines.
In February this year, unable to meet interest payments due finish of the year, the corporation defaulted on a $175m (£140m) bond.
Mr Nuttall highlighted that, though he was not against promoting off the organization, there was nonetheless a lot of perform to be completed to restructure its debt ahead of that can take place.
“If we can structure that debt, then a significant portion of what we’re paying as interest comes back and can be utilised to run the airline,” he stated.
“And it signifies that an outdoors investor can come in and not spend for the sins of the previous.”