The Airline Pilot’s Guild of Sri Lanka (ALPGSL) is calling on the management of SriLankan Airlines to address its concerns regarding the working conditions at the flag carrier. Among the problems, the Guild says pilots have been overworked and underpaid.
It comes as other workers at the oneworld airline have reportedly received bonuses. With the carrier at a deficit of more than 50 pilots, ALPGSL noted that the airline would lose more due to the ongoing concerns.
In a statement, the association claimed that the current conditions and lack of response from the carrier’s management have contributed to the pilots’ low morale.
SriLankan requires more than 300 pilots to operate its scheduled flights and function at full capacity. In the last year, 70 pilots resigned from the airline amid the working conditions, but the association said that “many more” resignations could occur due to the issues resulting in “a complete depletion of pilots.”
Slamming the carrier’s management, ALPGSL said the small group of pilots at the airline is under 300.
“The cadre of Pilots which should be at 330 now only has approximately 250 as a result of the shortsighted, arbitrary and callous decisions of the Management,” the association noted.
A recent incident highlighted SriLankan’s pilot staffing issue when a flight bound for South Korea was delayed more than 12 hours.
According to EconomyNext, SriLankan flight 470, carrying migrant workers to South Korea, was scheduled to depart at 20:20 but was delayed due to a cockpit crew member falling ill. In a statement, the airline blamed the “various regulations for fatigue and safety that govern operating crew” for being unable to find another pilot, but ALPGSL claimed that “there were no pilots on standby to be assigned to a flight,” further showcasing the severity of the issue.
The airline also reportedly pays pilots at one of the lowest rates in the industry. According to the Guild, SriLankan pilots’ wages are well under standards, with their salaries being paid at an arbitrary US dollar nearly 40% below the rate of the Central Bank prior to June 2023. ALPGSL stated that wages were lowered by approximately 50% during the pandemic. However, despite the cuts, pilots continued to work, which generated revenue and allowed essential medical supplies to be transported during the COVID-19 crisis.
The association claimed that the airline has provided bonuses for other employees, singling out the pilots.
SriLankan Airlines CEO Richard Nuttall has reportedly said the airline will see a profit of $50 million this year. Simple Flying has contacted the airline, but a representative could not be immediately reached.
“We urge that these matters be brought to the notice and the attention of the general public and all stakeholders of the Airline in order to facilitate the issues raised being addressed and resolved,” the Guild concluded.