Sri Lanka’s new government is planning to sell and privatize its national carrier, SriLankan Airlines, in order to stem financial losses.

Sri Lanka’s new Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, announced the decision in a televised address to the nation on May 16, 2022.

“It should not be that this loss has to be borne by the poorest of the poor who have not set foot in an aircraft,” Wickremesinghe said.

According to Wickremesignhe, the national carrier made a loss of 45 billion rupees ($124 million) in the year ending March 2021.

Last week Wickremesinghe was sworn in as Sri Lankan Prime Minister for the sixth time as the island nation faces political and economic strife. 

Wickremesinghe replaced Mahinda Rajapaksa of the Rajapaksa political dynasty which has ruled Sri Lanka for more than two decades. The current president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, is Rajapaksa’s brother.

The Rajapaksa family’s regime, coupled with the pandemic slowing the country’s tourism economy, is alleged to be the cause of Sri Lanka’s economic crisis

Formerly known as Air Lanka, SriLankan Airlines was founded in December 1979. In 1998, Emirates made a partial acquisition of the airline. In 2008, the Sri Lankan Government acquired all airline shares of SriLankan Airlines from Emirates. In 2014, the airline joined the OneWorld alliance.