The Attorney General will make submissions to Court today (6) regarding the diplomatic row between Russia and Sri Lanka over the detention of an Aeroflot aircraft, Minister of Ports, Shipping, and Aviation Nimal Siripala de Silva said.
While apologising to all passengers who were inconvenienced by the aircraft’s detention, he acknowledged that the issue would have an impact on Sri Lanka’s tourism industry, in addition to the foreign exchange crisis.
At a press conference, the Minister apologised and stated that the aircraft’s crew and passengers had been stranded.
“Due to the harm caused by the issue, the Government has decided to provide a legal framework in which all parties, regardless of the outcome of the case, are granted fair judgement. As a result, the Attorney General will make Court submissions on the matter today. The issue is a dispute between two companies and the State is not involved,” he said, adding that the State cannot obstruct any judicial proceedings.
Meanwhile, discussions were held with the Russian Embassy and Russia’s Aeroflot in connection with the detention of an Aeroflot plane at the Bandaranaike Airport, de Silva said.
The flight, which was scheduled to depart from Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport on 2 June to Moscow with 191 passengers and 13 crew members, was cancelled due to an Enjoining Order issued by the Commercial High Court of Colombo, according to a statement from the Airport and Aviation Services.
Meanwhile, Russians who came to Sri Lanka for a 14-day visit returned home after only seven days. They said yesterday that after completing the 14-day tour in seven days, they arrived at Katunayake Airport for the Aeroflot’s final flight back to Russia.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had reportedly informed Russian authorities that the issue with the Aeroflot aircraft is not an issue between two countries but a private legal issue. He did have a discussion on the issue with the Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs and advised him on what should be done.
Also, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated the on 2 June 2022 the Commercial High Court of the Western Province issued an Enjoining Order on the Aeroflot flight, restraining it from taking off from Bandaranaike International Airport.
In a press release, the ministry noted that the case relates to a commercial dispute between the Plaintiff, Celestial Aviation Trading 10 Limited, an Irish Company, against the first Defendant the Public Joint Stock Company ‘Aeroflot’ and the second Defendant, N. C Abeywardene/Acting Head of Air Navigation/Airport and Aviation Services of Sri Lanka (AASL), Katunayake.
The Aeroflot passenger aircraft flight SU-289 is currently at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA).
Russia’s Aeroflot suspended its commercial flights to Colombo after Sri Lankan authorities detained its Airbus A330 jet. “Aeroflot is suspending commercial flights to Colombo for the immediate period due to an unreliable situation in terms of the airline’s unobstructed flights to Sri Lanka. The sales of tickets for flights to Colombo have been temporarily shut down,” the statement noted.
(Pic by T.K.G. Kapila – Katunayake)