Sri Lanka offers US55mn for Emirates stake in national carrier: report

May 15, 2010 (LBO) – Sri Lanka has offered 55 million US dollars to buy back a 43.6 percent stake in national carrier SriLankan from Dubai-based Emirates airlines, a media report said. SriLankan itself was set up under the name of Air Lanka after another state airlines, Air Ceylon went under.

Despite the bitter lessons Sri Lanka started another budget airline, Mihin Lanka, three years ago which has been running losses from day one.

“¦$55 million is the price we have indicated,” Reuters, a news agency, quoted Sri Lanka’s finance ministry secretary P B Jayasundera as saying.

Last week Emirates chief Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al-Maktoum said the airline would sell that stake “at the right price.”

In February SriLankan chairman Nishanta Wickremasinghe said the government was in talks to buyout Emirates.

Emirates paid 70 million US dollars for a 40 percent stake in Sri Lankan in 1998 and later bought some employee stock boosting its share to 43.5 percent.

Sri Lanka’s government brought in Emirates at the time as the airline had been running losses for decades and buying aircraft on effective government guarantees with state bank loans despite having lucrative g