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Selling Troubled Flag Carrier a Tough Task for New Sri Lanka PM

  • Previous attempts to sell SriLankan Airlines have faltered
  • Sri Lanka’s new prime minister is only a few days into his job
A SriLankan Airlines Ltd. aircraft.
A SriLankan Airlines Ltd. aircraft.Photographer: Ismail Ferdous/Bloomberg

Sri Lanka’s new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe wants to sell the national airline, saying the country’s poorest people who’ve never flown shouldn’t be saddled with its losses. Finding a buyer might not be easy.

SriLankan Airlines Ltd., which prior to the pandemic serviced 126 destinations in more than 60 countries, lost 45 billion rupees ($125 million) in the year through March 2021, Wickremesinghe said Monday, less than a week into his job. Sri Lanka had bought back a stake in the carrier from Dubai’s Emirates in 2010, betting on a resurgent travel industry after the end of its 26-year civil war, but the airline has been marred in controversy, including corruption scandals.