Hesha Withanage

MP Withanage lands on SriLankan Airline debt per family


By the end of the 2023 financial year, the losses of SriLankan Airlines amounted to LKR 609 billion […] Every family in this country, […] has been placed in a position where they have to pay LKR 107,000.

Parliament YouTube channel | May 8, 2024



Fact Check

Addressing parliament, MP Hesha Withanage claimed that the losses accumulated by SriLankan Airlines (SLA) amounted to Rs. 609 billion, which in turn placed an average financial burden of Rs. 107,000 per family in the country.

To check this claim, FactCheck.lk consulted the SriLankan Airlines Annual Report 2022/2023 (SLAAR) and the Household Income and Expenditure Survey 2019 (HIES) by the Department of Census and Statistics (DCS).

The SLAAR reports (on page 114) that SLA has suffered net losses for at least the past ten consecutive years (see Exhibit 1). It also reports on page 58 an accumulated loss of SLA of Rs. 612 billion by the end of the financial year 2023. This figure aligns closely with the amount cited by the MP.

The HIES of 2019 projects the number of households in Sri Lanka at 5.7 million. FactCheck.lk understands the MP to mean households, when he used the term “families”. Therefore, if the burden of covering the accumulated SLA losses is placed directly and equally on each household in Sri Lanka, it would cost each household Rs. 107,368—as cited by the MP.

The MP is correct on the accumulated cost (loss) of SLA, and on translating that to an average cost of Sri Lankan households at that time.

Therefore, we classify the MP’s claim as TRUE.

Additional note: Households do not make this payment directly. However, it may impact households through various other economic channels, such as higher taxes and reduced public services.

Exhibit 1: Net Profit/(Loss) reported by SLA 2014-2023 (Rs. billion)

Source: Sri Lankan Airlines Annual Report 2022/2023


Sri Lankan Airlines Annual Report 2022/2023

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