CEO of Mihin Lanka Sajin Vaas Gunawardena will resign from his post at the end of this month to pave the way for a tie up with SriLankan Airlines and his brother Manoj Vaas Gunawardena to take over as CEO of the national carrier.
The Sunday Leader learns Sajin Vaas Gunawardena will continue to serve in the board of Mihin Lanka while Manoj Vaas Gunawardena will assume the CEO post of SriLankan Airlines from next month.
It is learned that Aviation Minister Chamal Rajapakse will forward to cabinet a memorandum outlining the proposed tie up between SriLankan and Mihin.
Sajin Vaas Gunawardena last Friday posed for a photograph with his staff and announced his resignation as CEO, but said he would continue as a board member.
A source at Mihin Lanka said Sajin's resignation will only be on paper and he would continue to be in charge from behind the scenes. The source said the resignation was aimed at muting a conflict of interest that the two brothers were both CEOs of government owned airlines.
Sajin after attending a meeting Friday with his board members and senior managerial staff, took a group photo after which he announced that he would resign by end of the month.
He had also announced that someone better would take over as CEO of Mihin and that he would still be on the board.
Minister Rajapakse has already signed a memorandum to be presented to cabinet outlining the commercial agreement Mihin is to sign with SriLankan. The memorandum was to be presented at last week's cabinet meeting, but the cabinet did not meet.
According to the cabinet memorandum SriLankan Airlines and Mihin will have a close working relationship in which Mihin will operate the routes that are more profitable to a budget airline while SriLankan will continue to develop its already established routes.
The memorandum also states that the government has recognised that there are structural and managerial deficiencies in Mihin and has attributed Mihin's failure to return an operational profit to structural and managerial deficiencies and not to any problems with capacity or the number of passengers.
Mihin has regained control of its aircraft after receiving an additional Rs. 250 million from the Treasury, wrangled out in a hurry after an incident in Bombay where one of the aircraft was grounded following an emergency landing and passengers were delayed for as much as six hours.
Speculation is rife that Lalith Silva, already a director of SriLankan may be appointed CEO of Mihin. In fact sources say President Mahinda Rajapakse had earlier wanted Silva to take over as CEO of SriLankan but he had turned down the offer.
Silva was formerly a director of Mobitel, in which Australian telecom giant Telestra had shares. Silva was apparently a key figure in negotiating Telestra's departure from the state-owned mobile telecom company, ultimately being appointed as CEO of Mobitel. Government sources say that they hope that Silva could perform a similar feat with Emirates. He is a Ministry favourite as they feel he has 'integrity and highly valued financial probity' sources say.