Nuttal’s appointment as Acting CEO faces backlash

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan | Published: 2:00 AM Jan 1 2022
News Nuttal’s appointment as Acting CEO faces backlash

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan

Questions have been raised as to how recently appointed Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) of SriLankan Airlines, Richard Nuttall, a Britisher is to be appointed as the Acting CEO without following a proper interview process.

Despite the fact that the position was advertised and over 20 candidates applied for the post of CEO, Nuttal, the current CCO, has been selected to be the Acting CEO, it is alleged.

When there are many qualified long-serving SriLankan officials who could be appointed to the position of CEO, it raises eyebrows that SriLankan Airlines Chairman Ashok Pathirage has obtained permission from the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka (CAASL) to appoint Nuttal as the Acting CEO.

After CEO Vipula Gunathilake retired, Pathirage wrote to the CAASL on 28 December 2021, requesting approval to appoint Nuttal to the position without requiring a formal interview or going through the due processes. When asked by Ceylon Today about the approval, the top official at the CAASL said they would only approve it believing that SriLankan had made the right decision and that they would have no say over the person who had been appointed. 

“We will only take note of the country’s security, and if the SriLankan is satisfied and there are no objections to Nuttal’s appointment, the CAA will approve it,” sources said. 

“There is a requirement that the person be qualified and under the age of 60.” We believe he fulfilled those requirements.”

Since the current CEO, Vipula Gunathilake, was set to retire at the end of the year 2021, Srilankan Airlines advertised the position of CEO in August 2021. Locals and foreigners were both invited for the position of CEO. There were over 20 candidates who applied for the job, but the interview process was never completed. The Chairman of SriLankan Airlines decided that CCO Nuttal would be suitable for the position despite the lack of a proper interview process.

According to SriLankan officials, Nuttal worked for the airline starting from November 2021.They claimed the appointment of foreigners to high positions at SriLankan Airlines without any consideration of others is worrisome.

 As per the Civil Aviation Act of Sri Lanka no foreigner should be appointed as a post holder (senior management) if suitable SriLankan Nationals were available with qualifications. In the history of SriLankan Airlines there were no foreigners appointed to senior management positions other than during the time SriLankan Airlines was managed by Emirates, they claimed. It was clear that foreigners were there during the time of Emirates management because they came as a team. There are many qualified individuals in the country that could hold the senior management positions at SriLankan Airlines but the opportunity was given to foreigners for no reason.

The Appointment of foreigners to management under US dollar salary package causes much needed valuable foreign currencies to flow out of Sri Lanka. Present Government policy was to appoint educated, qualified individuals to higher positions at Government entities, those concerned officials noted. 

Ceylon Today’s attempt to contact the Media Spokesperson of SriLankan was futile. Director General CAASL Capt. Samantha Abeywickrama said to contact his office and disconnected the line. 


By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan | Published: 2:00 AM Jan 1 2022

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