Rat on a plane sparks worries for Sri Lanka's airline

Sri Lanka's national airline, SriLankan Airlines, recently faced a three-day delay due to a rat that sneaked inside one of its planes. The incident caused chaos in the airline's schedule, leading to significant delays and raising concerns about the carrier's financial viability. The stowaway rodent was found on an Airbus A330 flight from Lahore, Pakistan, which prompted a thorough search of the entire aircraft to ensure that no damage had been done.


Although the plane has resumed service, the knock-on effect of the delay was substantial. SriLankan Airlines, which has a fleet of 23 planes, has been struggling financially, with three other aircraft grounded for more than a year. Additionally, the airline has no foreign currency reserves to fund the mandatory engine overhaul. The country's aviation minister, Nimal Siripala de Silva, warned that the incident could discourage any potential investors from taking over the airline, which is heavily in debt.


The Sri Lankan government has been trying to sell the airline for years but without success. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has also cautioned that state-owned enterprises, such as the airline, are a significant drain on the national budget. Before 2008, when a management agreement with Emirates was terminated, the airline was profitable. However, a dispute with then-president Mahinda Rajapaksa, who demanded that 35 of his family members be given seats on a crowded flight, led to the cancellation of the agreement.

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Ironically, in 2001, one of the airline's most profitable years was when the Tamil Tigers destroyed numerous planes in an attack, which resulted in the airline receiving insurance payouts and the removal of surplus capacity, boosting its revenue. The airline's current situation is a far cry from its profitable past, and it remains to be seen what the future holds for SriLankan Airlines.

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